Get your bids in. The ‘ailing’ Alexandra Palace is now up for grabs, and is looking for someone to take on a 125 year lease. The Grade II-listed complex sits high atop Muswell Hill and is the major landmark of the area. But like Battersea Power Station and the Dome, it’s one of the great buildings of London that misses its full potential.
So who’s going to buy it? Well, restrictions stipulate that the site must be used for ‘leisure purposes’. (Darn, I guess we’ll have to look elsewhere for a new Londonist HQ.) The frontrunners are likely to be casinos, nightclubs and the like. Or at least until the NIMBYs kick up a fuss. Look, there they are, right up close to the arse-end of the building.
Prospective leaseholders would do well to consider the Palace’s inauspicious history:
1860s: construction begins with hopes of building a rival to the Crystal Palace. Bankruptcy ensues. The half-formed shell is derelict for several years. Bags of money wasted.
1873: the ‘People’s Palace’ finally opens. Burns down after 16 days due to a careless builder. Consequently, the nearby rail station is also made effectively redundant. Suitcases of money wasted.
1875: Palace rebuilt due to Victorian tendency for impossibly quick engineering.
1936: BBC broadcasts the first public service from the site.
1980: Palace again in flames, due to another careless builder. Closed for eight years. Paddling pools of money wasted.
1988: After major financial woes, the patched-up and sorry-looking Palace reopens to the public.
So, the perfect bidder would have a track record of investing in recreational venues, and possess at least a passing familiarity with financial irregularities. Step forward Roman Abramovich?