Coventry's Phoenix Initiative has kick-started a major regeneration programme which points to a bright future for England's 11th largest city...
The £1 billion-worth of investment in Coventry city centre, which has been talked about for several years, is now turning into reality.
Three major announcements in recent weeks have underlined the size of transformation being seen in the centre of the 11th biggest city in the country.
The award-winning and Stirling Prize-shortlisted Phoenix Initiative was the first regeneration project for Coventry City Centre but, with the scale of what's to come, it was actually just a small beginning.
Coventry and Warwickshire has received a number of high-profile economic blows over the past few months, but recent revelations on exciting new plans for the city centre have provided a welcome silver lining especially coupled with other developments around the region.
Plans for the railway station, a mixed-use development nearby called Park Court, and the exciting Swanswell Initiative - featuring one million sq ft of commercial property - all point towards a bright future.
But, with work well under way on one of the UK's first city centre Ikea's and at Belgrade Plaza and the rejuvenation of Belgrade Theatre, the present also has a rosy outlook.
Coun Dave Arrowsmith, cabinet member for urban regeneration and regional planning, believes the developments are bringing both a physical and psychological change to the city.
"The Phoenix Initiative was really just the start and we are fully aware that it is vital to keep an impressive line-up of developments going - and that is exactly what we are doing," he says.
"Recent announcements show just what an exciting time it is for Coventry at the moment.
"As the physical changes are being made, I believe the image of the city is also altering. The recent news that Radisson Edwardian is to open its first four-star hotel outside London in the Belgrade Plaza development is highly significant.
"We want to attract more big, high-quality names to the city centre and I believe that will happen if we keep driving development forward."
Radisson Edwardian Hotels has agreed a deal with developers Oakmoor Deeley to create a £40 million, 184-bedroom hotel at Belgrade Plaza.
The new hotel will also incorporate a fitness complex and 12,000 sq ft of conference and banqueting facilities.
The new hotel, which will open in 2008, will be a key part of the £130 million development which is creating a new regional cultural, entertainment, leisure and living quarter in the heart of the city.
The investment follows the news that Gala is to open a 30,000 sq ft casino on the site and that Premier Travel Inns will operate a smaller 109-bedroom budget hotel.
The project also includes apartments as well as space for bars and restaurants.
According to David Penn, of joint agents Shortland Horne, the arrival of Radisson Edwardian sends out a very positive message about the city.
"This scheme, and others, are key to the future prosperity of the city. It is essential that new schemes raise the bar in terms of quality of build and operator," he says.
"We have been delighted with the response to Belgrade Plaza and the names it has attracted, but the improvement of the city centre is very much a long-term, continuous quest."
The announcement of a partnership between the city council and developer Cannon Kirk on a proposal for a mixed-use scheme of up to three million sq ft, which will transform an eight-hectare site around Coventry railway station has been long awaited.
World-renowned urban design and masterplanning practice Farrells has been appointed to create a master-plan for the site, which will include high quality office and residential space incorporating leisure and retail uses.
The scheme will provide a cohesive transport inter-change between the railway station, buses, taxis and 600 car parking spaces which will be created for rail commuters.
Enhanced pedestrian access routes will also be incorporated into the new scheme to link the station to the city centre, which is just ten minutes' walk away.
David Holt, of agent D & P Holt, says: "This is probably the key commercial property scheme for the city as it is so key from a logistical point of view.
"A great deal of work over several years has gone into assembling the land and property, and again the fact that a practice as eminent as Farrells is working on the scheme says a great deal."
The railway station is just opposite Park Court - a joint venture between the Cassidy Group and The Gatesby Property Group - which plans to include a three-star hotel, retail space, offices, apartments, a medical centre, restaurants, bars, conference facilities and an underground car park.