A long-awaited £10.5million project to revitalise Chesterfield's former Co-op building will start in days, it has been confirmed.
Speaking at the Chesterfield Investment Summit yesterday, Huw Bowen, chief executive of Chesterfield Borough Council, revealed that Jomast Developments Ltd will start work next week to strip out the prominent property on Elder Way and begin the process to convert it into a base for a hotel, six restaurants and a gym.
Work lasting up to 18 months had been due to start in May - but legal matters got in the way.
The Co-op building has remained empty since the department store closed in 2013.
Central England Co-operative, which still owns the landmark property, is working with Jomast Developments Ltd to transform it - and promises to retain many of its original features.
Adam Hearld, development director at Jomast Developments Ltd, said: "This is a hugely important and exciting opportunity to revitalise a significant landmark building and create a vibrant leisure destination in the heart of Chesterfield town centre."
So far, it has been confirmed that an 89-bedroom Premier Inn hotel and Beefeater restaurant will form part of the eagerly-anticipated project.
Other occupiers have not yet been revealed.
Nicholas Johnston, acquisitions manager for Premier Inn, said: "Chesterfield is an excellent location and, as well as attracting new visitors to the area, the new hotel will deliver fresh investment and create 60 new jobs for the local area."
It will be the third Premier Inn in the Chesterfield area - the company already has hotels off Rother Way and in Eastmoor.
The project to redevelop the former Co-op building is part of the first phase of the Northern Gateway masterplan.
The first phase, which will be completed over the next five years, will also see:
► Chesterfield Borough Council demolish the existing Saltergate multi-storey car park and replace it with a new, higher quality car park in a £6.54m scheme;
► An enterprise centre, incorporating a public space area, built on part of the Donut car park to house small and medium sized companies
► Environmental street improvements around Elder Way and part of Knifesmithgate - to enhance this part of the town centre and make it more pedestrian friendly - will be funded using a £5.8m grant from the Sheffield City Region.
Andrew Dabbs, director of Chesterfield-based architects Whittam Cox, told the Chesterfield Investment Summit: "Town centres are complex places to manage and constantly changing.
"The Northern Gateway provides a massive opportunity to invest, reconnect the north side of the town centre to the central area and create an environment to live, work, play and learn."