Civic centre to be turned into four-star hotel
The crumbling Plymouth Civic Centre – which dominates the city centre's skyline – is to be "stripped to its core" and rebuilt as part of an ambitious £50 million project by Plymouth Argyle boss James Brent.
Mr Brent was named yesterday as the city's preferred bidder to take over the controversial building.
He is in talks with a major international hotel chain and plans to turn the 1960s building into a 160-room four-star hotel.
The top two floors, with unrivalled views over the city and the Plymouth Sound, will become a restaurant, bar and roof terrace open to the public.
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If a funding bid succeeds, a new home for Plymouth Arts Centre will be built between the Civic Centre and the Theatre Royal, creating a new cultural quarter for the city.
Mr Brent's victory in the bidding battle to take over the Civic Centre will lift a huge financial burden from the city's shoulders.
English Heritage's shock listing of the building in 2007 threw the council into a state of shock and thwarted plans to tear it down and redevelop the site.
Council bosses said then that it would cost around £40 million just to make the 14-storey building fit for the 21st century.
Councillor Mark Lowry, the city's Cabinet member for finance, said yesterday: "From a taxpayer point of view it removes a liability of about £50 million.
"We as a council don't have to underwrite the development – it is financially viable in its own right."
He said it cost about £1.5 million a year to run the building, which has very poor energy efficiency.
Council staff will be moved to new offices and Plymouth Arts Centre will get a new home on Royal Parade if a funding bid succeeds.