A derelict former hotel has been bought by Hartlepool Borough Council giving a 'massive boost' to the regeneration of Church Street.
Shades Hotel on the corner of Lynn Street, closed in 1970 and briefly re-opened as New Shades before becoming disused for a number of years.
The grade II listed building is currently on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register.
Hartlepool council has bought the building with financial support from the Tees Valley Combined Authority.
Regeneration chief Councillor Kevin Cranney says the purchase gives the authority direct control of a prominent building in Church Street which last week re-opened to vehicles after a multi-million pound revamp project to make it more pedestrian-friendly and open.
The council has not said how much it paid for Shades. Councillor Cranney, Chair of the Council’s Regeneration Services Committee, said in a statement: “This gives us direct control of a very historic and significant building which we believe - given its prominent position - can become an “anchor” property in terms of Church Street’s regeneration.
“It shows how we are determined to safeguard the town’s heritage and be proactive in building upon the improvements that have already been achieved through the continuing Church Street/Church Square regeneration works.
“It is important that wherever possible we try to take action to improve the condition of properties and – where they are standing empty – to bring them back into use so that they don’t detract from the overall appearance of the area.”
The council says it is currently exploring a range of options for how it can be used but is working with Historic England to restore the building.
It says it intends to put in a bid for funding to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in August.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “Church Street already looks fantastic after our multi-million pound boost, but we want to go further to make Hartlepool an even more attractive place to live, work and visit. Our latest financial commitment to secure this historic building shows how hard we’re working to drive regeneration in the town while preserving its character.”
Shades opened in 1856 and closed in 1970.
Further regeneration work is continuing to Church Square including the creation of a large oval event space surrounded by trees and raised seating outside Hartlepool Art Gallery.
Work is also continuing on The Bis, a new centre for business start-ups in the creative industries sector in the former Post Office building in Whitby Street.
The conversion is being funded by the combined authority and the centre will be run by Hartlepool Borough Council with support from Cleveland College of Art and Design.