London's iconic Admiralty Arch is set to be turned into a luxury hotel and restaurant with views over Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace after being sold to Spanish developers of £60 million.
The gateway, built in 1912 as a memorial to Queen Victoria, has seen hordes of marathon runners beneath it, as well as the Prince William and Duchess Kate's wedding party.
New owners Prime Investors Capital have bought 80,000 square foot space on a 99-year leasehold contract, and will now seek planning permission to turn the building into a hotel with 100 rooms, and a panoramic restaurant and bar at the top.
The new owners hope to attract more than 50,000 guests a year to the hotel and more than 50,000 visitors for the views.
After decades serving as an office block for civil servants, ministers last year decided the building could be better used as a tourist destination.
Francis Maude, a Cabinet Office minister, said he hope the new owners would "bring the arch back to life".
He told the Daily Telegraph: "Rather than letting it fall into disrepair we are taking action. Taxpayers should not be footing the bill for property that isn't needed."
Mr Maude said the sale of public buildings will "spur growth" as well as being a heritage project, adding: "The restoration will bring jobs to London and beyond. The freehold of the building will remain in the hands of the public, ensuring they have a say in the future of this building forever."
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