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Everyone invited to party celebrating new-look city icon

The incredible transformation of a seafront eyesore into a city icon will be celebrated this weekend.

The gleaming new cream facade and sparkling windows were in stark contrast to the crumbling and discoloured concrete with rotten and boarded-up windows people had come to know.

Scaffolding which shrouded Embassy Court on Brighton seafront for the first six months of the project was removed in April and drew gasps of astonishment from passers by.

The 11-storey modernist block of flats was considered one of the finest examples of Thirties architecture in the world but had suffered from years of neglect.

What was once a playground for the rich and famous had a tarnished image as a hang-out for junkies and illegal immigrants.

For the last six months workers have been giving the back of the building the same treatment as well as replacing antiquated heating, water, electrics and lift systems.

The Argus was this week given sneak preview of the restored jewel in the crown of Brighton seafront.

The last time we visited was in April when the dilapidated state of the stairwells and balconies combined with the filth of the building work made for an atmosphere of squalor.

The transformation in that space of time is remarkable.

Gone are the grey, oppressive concrete walls, rusty pipes and empty window frames.

For the first time in decades it is now understandable why Embassy Court is considered such an important structure and why residents worked hard for years and raised millions of pounds to restore it.

It is now easy to imagine famous residents like film star Rex Harrison or comedian Max Miller hopping out of the lift, or writer Keith Waterhouse enjoying a pink gin on the sun deck.

Embassy Court's well-documented decline began in the Seventies when many of the flats were taken over by absentee landlords.

Rents and service charges went unpaid and it fell into disrepair as a series of legal disputes over the freehold rumbled on for years.

Critics demanded the building be demolished, with one sneering tourist guide likening its crumbling appearance to "Michael Jackson on a bad day".

The stalemate was only resolved in 2003 when residents' company Bluestorm won its battle with property developers to gain control of the building.

Leaseholders of the 72 flats each stumped up £55,000 for the repair work.

The intervention of renowned architect Sir Terence Conran was a major factor of a remarkable change in fortunes for the building and its residents.

By the end of this week restoration works in the foyer and main entrance should be finished to mark the end of major building work.

On Saturday a huge party will be held at Brunswick Lawns to mark the occasion.

Bluestorm is inviting the people of Brighton and Hove to join residents at the event being called Vive Moderne.

Running from 4.30pm to 10.30pm, it will include children's art workshops, a 60-strong choir and a spectacular fireworks display.

Skint Records will be spinning tunes at a private party on the sun deck while musician Chris Dooks will be in the foyer performing songs he has written about Embassy Court.

Bluestorm media and arts director Rowena Easton said: "After many years of dedication and hard work by so many people, it is with great pride that we return Embassy Court to the city of Brighton and Hove in all her splendour.

"Vive Moderne is an event for everyone in the city to come and join us launch the building into the next period of its history and a chance for us to thank the city's residents for all their support over the years by giving them an entertaining day out for all the family."

Tours of Embassy Court are being held during the week September 8-11, led by resident Stuart Adams, who has an extensive knowledge of the heritage of the building and its architect Wells Coates.

Group sizes are a minimum of ten and maximum of 30 and cost £6 for adults and £4 for concessions. Call 07900 312233 to book.

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