The demolition of former factory shopping outlet Jacksons Landing is about to begin.
Hartlepool Borough Council, which owns the site, says site preparations are being made this week with the demolition work due to start next week.
It is expected to last around eight weeks.
The council decided to clear the waterfront site at the marina to facilitate the creation of a landmark destination that will complement the recently-launched National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool.
The decision proved controversial with some councillors who say demolition is a waste of public money when there is no firm plan for what will replace it.
Hundreds of people also signed an online petition to try to persuade the council not to knock it down.
Demolition of the building makes a range of new options possible, including purpose-built new buildings and styles that reflect the prominence of the areaCouncillor Kevin Cranney
But Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, leader of the council, says clearing the site is the best way to relaunch the area as a visitor destination.
Coun Akers-Belcher said: “The site is seen by the Council as strategically important to the re-development of Hartlepool’s waterfront and the town’s future economic growth.
“The decision to demolish the existing Jacksons Landing building reflects our ambition for the site and the long-term prosperity of Hartlepool.
“The site was purchased by the council given its potential for re-development rather than for the existing building which does not offer the same potential for transformational change.
“Jacksons Landing is a building associated with failure. Removing it offers the opportunity to re-launch the waterfront as a visitor destination and change people’s perception of the area.”
Newcastle-based architects GT3 were recently appointed to lead an exercise aimed at creating a mixed use development on the site and initial designs will be the subject of consultation with the local community later this year.
Councillor Kevin Cranney, deputy leader of the council and chairman of the Regeneration Services Committee, said: “The existing building is in a poor condition and has been stripped back to a shell. Significant investment would be required to convert it into a quality development.”
The council says it has spent over £15,000 over the last three years when it has been repaired 44 times to keep the building safe and secure following vandalism.
Trespassers have been getting onto the roof and damaging roof lights, putting themselves at serious risk.
Councillor Cranney added: “Quality of design is the key to attracting investment and transforming the image of the waterfront and Hartlepool as a tourist attraction generally. Demolition of the building makes a range of new options possible, including purpose-built new buildings and styles that reflect the prominence of the area.”
Jacksons Landing has stood empty since 2004 apart from occasional uses. It was purchased by the council in 2013 using an interest-free loan.