A former nightclub is set to be converted into a base for new start-up businesses to kick-start a regeneration of Hartlepool’s Church Street area.
The former Post Office building in Whitby Street, which was more recently Zeus nightclub, is to be acquired by Hartlepool Borough Council.
It will use grant funding to convert the three-storey building into 33 units to let to creative new businesses.
The conversion is part of council plans to create an Innovation and Skills Quarter (ISQ) to redefine the Church Street area.
It is one of three key elements of the Hartlepool Regeneration Masterplan.
Denise Ogden, director of regeneration and neighbourhoods, said: “The intention of the ISQ is to redefine the area with additional daytime uses, an improved environment and a vibrant cluster of creative industry businesses.
“The principal of developing a supportive environment for creative and entrepreneurial businesses has the potential to link up closely with the new campus for Cleveland College of Art and Design, on the former Lynn Street depot site.
“Therefore a key part of the ISQ strategy is the establishment of a managed workspace facility in the area.
“In order to start delivering the Innovation and Skills Quarter, it is proposed to acquire a suitable building for conversion into workspace.”
The council has provisionally secured £5.5million of Local Growth Funding from the Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership towards development of the Innovation and Skills Quarter. A feasibility study carried out on behalf of the council identified the former nightclub as the only suitable and available building in the area.
Ms Ogden added: “The implementation of this part of the masterplan will help to secure in excess of £3million of further Local Growth Fund grant for other projects in the ISQ.
“The project will refurbish and secure the long-term future of a key vacant listed building.”
The council will work with Cleveland College of Art and Design, which is expanding with a new campus, to let units to graduates starting their own creative and digital businesses.
The college says a number of graduates have left town in the past due to no suitable accommodation being available.
The authority estimates the refurbished building could support 115 new jobs based on it being 90% full.
The council will fund and manage the new facility for the first two years to give it time to generate enough income to cover the operating costs.
Councillors on the Finance and Policy Committee approved the council’s acquisition of the building.