Demolition work to Hartlepool’s former factory shopping outlet Jacksons Landing is well underway.
Work has started on pulling down part of the building at the marina as owners Hartlepool Borough Council clear the site to market for redevelopment.
Diggers began work ripping down part of the exterior of the building at the weekend.
Workers were working inside yesterday.
Levelling of the whole site is expected to take eight weeks.
The council bought the site for £1.5 million in 2013 with an interest-free loan.
It has been empty for more than a decade after it ceased trading in 2004.
The council voted in favour of demolition at last month’s full council meeting although the decision has proved unpopular among many people for costing £40,000 of taxpayers’ money to do it.
Council chiefs say removal of the building presents the best chance to create something new that will bring people to the area and build on the arrival of the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s presence of the historic quay.
Speaking before the work started, council leader Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher said:
“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.”
Last month, hundreds of music fans attended the site to enjoy the second annual We Are Family festival headlined by the town’s Jar Family.
Architects appointed by the council are currently drawing up plans for the site which will be subject to public consultation.
The council said it had to spend more than £15,000 on repairs and security to the building after incidents of trespassers and vandalism.
Councillor Kevin Cranney, deputy leader of the council and chairman of the Regeneration Services Committee, previously 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.
“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.”