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Archive - Wednesday, 14 November 2001
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Rescue bid for art deco eyesore
Embassy Court, one of Brighton's most famous eyesore landmarks, could be turned into a hotel.
Architect Alan Phillips is making a last ditch attempt to save Embassy Court.
He wants the lower floors of the famous Thirties seafront landmark in King's Road, Brighton, to be converted into a hotel, creating enough cash to renovate the upper storeys.
Embassy Court, built in 1935 by the architect Wells Coates on the corner of Western Street, is a listed block of flats more than 100 feet high.
Because of acute problems of ownership, little maintenance has been undertaken on the building in recent years and it is crumbling.
The future of Embassy Court was discussed at a seminar last night organised by the Regency Society and the School of Architecture at Brighton University.
Alan Powers, of the 20th Century Society, and Mr Phillips presented the case for preserving the block while Argus columnist Adam Trimingham put forward the argument for demolition.
Mr Phillips, whose practice is based at New England Street, has been associated with Embassy Court for several years, working first for the freeholder and then for Sanctuary Housing Association when it was interested in using the block for social housing.
Now an impasse has been reached in negotiations, he feels the hotel idea could work.
It involves creating a larger ground floor where the lobby and entrance would be placed.
There is a substantial space there since Mr Coates originally intended it to be occupied by a bank.
He said the position was ideal and a precedent had been set at the Bedford Hotel, now the Hilton West Pier, which also has apartments above the hotel block. It is also located on the seafront.
Mr Phillips said: "Embassy Court is now on the cusp between demolition and renovation. We have got to be quick."
He said there would be a big demand for a beautiful hotel and added: "The rest of the floors could benefit from the revenue."
Mr Phillips is putting the idea to the freeholders, Brighton and Hove City Council, and to all the other lessees.
He said: "You have to be brave to do this. Nothing else has worked so far."
Mr Powers said: "I am very excited by what I have seen tonight."
Council environment Cabinet councillor Chris Morley, an expert on Thirties architecture, said the authority was fully committed to restoring Embassy Court.
He added: "It is a stunning and wonderful building of its period. There are problems of ownership and we have to overcome them."
The block has now lost much of its charm and recently a large chunk of cladding fell from one of its upper floors.