One of the most important regeneration sites in Birmingham city centre is set for a rebirth as it goes on sale.
The Martineau Galleries and surrounding area is due to go on the market, with several firms lining up bids, the Post understands.
The redevelopment of the area around Dale End, which is larger than the Bullring, forms a vital part of the HS2 Curzon Masterplan to redesign the centre and connect the city core to Eastside.
The site has planning permission for shops, offices and homes but the project has been dormant since before the recession and the permission is set to lapse later this year.
However, owner Martineau Galleries Partnership, which comprises Bullring co-owner Hammerson, Land Securities and Phoenix Group Holdings, now plans to sell the site and has instructed Knight Frank to advise, it is understood.
Waheed Nazir, Birmingham City Council's director of planning and regeneration, said the area was a vital part of the city centre regeneration vision and he had been contacted by interested parties.
He said: "I know there has been a lot of interest already. I welcome the sale as a means of taking forward the Curzon Masterplan.
"It currently generates an income, so they have been able to hold the market, but bringing it to the market will help bring forward the masterplan. From my perspective, I want to see something of quality in there.
"As a city, we have set out our aspiration for what we want from Martineau Galleries in the Curzon Masterplan, considering its relationship with Eastside, Digbeth, the city core and Snowhill."
The move would represent the largest potential sale in the city core since 1999, with an area the size of 36 football pitches set to go on the market.
The site comprises:
- 'The Square' (the 270,000 sq ft shopping centre formerly known as Priory Square)
- Dale and Century House
- Two empty office blocks in Dale End
- A 1,100-space NCP car park and another 720-space NCP car park
- 1-7 Kings Parade (the row of shops with McDonalds and TSB Bank in Dale End)
- Londonderry House in Priory Queensway
- The Bannatyne gym
- Scruffy Murphys pub
Outline planning consent was granted in December 2006 over a majority of the 6.5-acre site for a substantial mixed-use development of up to 2.86 million square feet although the recession scuppered work.
The scheme represents 915,000 sq ft of retail space, 270,000 sq ft of office space, a 320,000 sq ft hotel or 850 residential units, 215,000 sq ft of leisure space and 54,000 sq ft of cultural space.
It is not known whether the site could be split up for sale purposes but the Post understands Birmingham City Council has stated a preference for it to remain a single, high-quality development.
The potential Martineau Galleries development has been dubbed the last substantial site in Birmingham's city core.
Progress on the High Speed 2 (HS2) Curzon Street terminal and an upsurge in the city's office and residential sectors are likely to make it a more viable prospect this time around.
When the plans were first mooted, it was thought the scheme would lead to 6,000 new jobs on top of 800 construction roles.
The estimated cost of the development was £550 million in 2006.
The importance of the scheme to the city council was shown in the recent Birmingham HS2 Curzon Masterplan, which identified it as "a prime mixed-use development scheme".
The masterplan envisages an extension of the city's business district set around a new public square with strong pedestrian links, retail and leisure uses.
An extension to the Metro network will serve the site with a new station at Albert Street where the Martineau Square blocks will front on to the new Birmingham Curzon Station Square at Moor Street.
The masterplan states: "HS2 will change the dynamics for the future redevelopment of the existing 1960s shopping precinct and multi-storey car park at Dale End.
"The sites will come to prominence as a prime mixed use development scheme as the opening of HS2 draws near and thereafter.
"Martineau Square provides the opportunity for large floor-plate grade A office space immediately opposite Birmingham Curzon station. The development will become an extension to the Colmore Business District and Snow Hill to the west."
City centre retailer David Johnson said the redevelopment of Martineau Galleries had the potential to boost struggling parts of the city's traditional shopping areas.
Mr Johnson, owner of Rex Johnson and Sons in Corporation Street, said: "Anything linking the city to the Bullring has got to be healthy as far as retailers in the city centre are concerned.
"At the moment, the centre is in total disarray, with the Metro work going on and the footflow from New Street Station changing because of the entrance change.
"Hopefully, this will give a chance for places like Corporation Street and Bull Street to benefit from the Bullring."
The sites are thought to command a total rent roll of around £2 million a year and all are held long leasehold, largely from the city council.
The history of this part of Birmingham stretches back more than 800 years with a priory on the site in the 13th century.
The Birmingham Alliance was formed in 1999 to carry out a retail-led regeneration of Birmingham's city centre through the redevelopment of the Bull Ring site as well as Martineau Galleries in two phases.
The first stage, Martineau Galleries Phase I, was completed and opened as Martineau Place in late 2001 and sold in 2004, while the Bullring was completed in 2003.