Atlantis Tower up for sale after owner signs ‘outrageous’ loan deal
- Credit: Archant
Great Yarmouth’s most iconic landmark must be sold after the company behind it signed an “outrageous” loan agreement that left it financially ruined.
Receivers have been appointed to sell Atlantis Tower - now known as the Tower Complex - after the company which owns it, Tower Building Ltd, saw an emergency loan of £1.1m spiral into a debt of £3.6m.
The loan was signed in 2019 by directors of Tower Building Ltd, Colin and Chantel Abbott, as the company sought emergency funding when a previous investor withdrew.
Mrs Abbott, who was removed as a director shortly after the deal was signed, said her understanding was the loan would be paid back within three months, while longer-term funding was secured.
But it never was, and with interest of up to 15pc a month, the debt rocketed to more than three times the initial loan.
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The building is now being marketed for sale by chartered surveyors Francis Darrah with price on application.
The advert for the building reads that it is a “rare opportunity” to get a “prime site” on Yarmouth’s Golden Mile.
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It states the building is bringing in rent of more than £100,000 a year and part of it has been converted into 18 flats.
The loan to the building’s owners, Tower Complex Ltd, was provided by a company registered at a care home in Dereham called Care Help UK. It loaned £1.1m in July 2019 on the agreement that Tower Complex Ltd would pay back £1.3m by October. It had to pay interest of 5pc each month.
But in October, when the loan was not repaid, an extra 10pc interest every month was charged and the debt has now ballooned to £3.6m - of that around £2.3m is interest. The loan was secured against the building and as it has not been paid back, Care Help UK has appointed receivers Parker Andrews to sell the complex.
Mrs Abbott said she felt she had no option but to sign the agreement. “I thought the rate of interest was outrageous but I felt if I didn’t sign it we would lose the building," she said.
“It was not meant to go beyond October and I don’t know why it was not paid back."
Her former partner, Colin Abbott, declined to comment.
Care Help UK is owned by Norfolk care home boss Dr Sanjay Kaushal. It has £100 in assets, according to its accounts, which make no mention of the loan. The company has not responded to requests for comment.
The deal, meanwhile, has also left an original investor in Tower Building Ltd facing huge losses.
Mrs Abbott's dad, John Nekrews, loaned Tower Building Ltd £500,000 to help it buy the building in 2014. The money was secured with a charge on the building, but when the loan with Care Help UK was taken out, they took priority on the charge, meaning when the complex is sold, Care Help UK will get the money and not Mr Nekrews’ company.
“I thought our money was safe as we had the building to back it up,” he said. “That is a large chunk of our pension gone.”
Mr Nekrews signed a document to give Care Help UK priority on the charge but said: “We felt under pressure as we were told that without this loan we stood to lose all our investment.
“We were given no time to seek professional advice.”
History of the tower
Built in the 1960s, we can only imagine that the Tower Complex was once talked about as a beacon of regeneration that would help lure back the fleeing holiday crowds, Liz Coates writes.
Just as the Costa Blanca was building high rise accommodation for sun-seekers to jet off to, Yarmouth had its own modern complex complete with a viewing tower reaching optimistically to the skies.
The Golden Mile landmark went up in 1965 on the site of the old coastguard station.
The ground floor and first floor opened first, the ballroom following a few months later.
A year later visitors could enjoy an ice-rink but it didn't last long and after that the ground floor variously hosted an amusement arcade and an indoor market.
In the 1960s it was featured on postcards and was presumably considered majestic enough to incite the envy of those back home with its modern straight lines.
However, despite numerous re-modellings nothing ever really stuck, leading some to regard it as a "white elephant" that never quite delivered on its ambitious promise.
Many will remember it best for Tiffany's nightclub - a 2,000 capacity venue and a huge draw for miles around.
In the 1980's it was the place to be at the weekend, with numerous appearances by The Real Thing, despite its sticky carpets and toilets that rarely had seats.
More recently the Empire Lounge has proved a popular addition to the nightclub scene but it is closed due to coronavirus.