Work on the huge Arena Central development in the centre of Birmingham could start by the end of the year, according to Miller Group, one of the two firms behind the long awaited project.
Arena Central Developments, the joint venture formed by Edinburgh-based Miller and Bridgehouse Capital, the investment company set up by Midlands millionaire Andy Ruhan, is soon to submit a revamped Arena Central masterplan to Birmingham City Council, prior to a formal planning application.
The two partners have merged their land interests on the Arena Central site, which involves Alpha Tower and the former ATV television premises.
They envisage the 7.6-acre site will be transformed into one of the UK's largest city centre developments, with up to 2.3 million sq ft of quality offices, plus residential, leisure and retail space. There will also be parking for 2,500 cars.
If the planning application gets the final go-ahead, work could start on site by the end of the year, eventually creating more than 2,000 new jobs.
The initial proposal for Arena Central involved a 175 metre high office tower, the highest building outside London.
The plans were thrown into doubt following the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York.
However, Phil Miller, chief executive of Miller's development arm, yesterday confirmed the latest plan still envisages the construction of the tower.
Meanwhile, Miller Group chief executive Keith Miller yesterday unveiled record results for the year, with pre-tax profits up 31 per cent, from #40.2 million to #52.5 million.
With a record construction order book worth #320 million, Miller is paying a final dividend of 21.9p per share, up from the previous 17.5p.
That takes the total payment for the year up from 24.8p to 31p, a rise of 25 per cent.
Mr Miller said: "2004 witnessed an outstanding performance with profit before interest increasing to #70 million and profit before tax of #52.5 million.
"This represents another record year for the group, with all three of our businesses increasing profits compared with 2003."
He added: "Housing was the main contributor with a 23 per cent improvement in profits to #59.6 million.
"Turnover was in line with 2003 as we concentrated on margin growth. This strategy was rewarded with an excellent 25 per cent increase in our operating margins to 15 per cent.
"We made major investments in both housing land and property, totalling #0.5 billion which will underpin future growth."
Miller is involved in a large number of other projects in the West Midlands, with developments at Kidderminster, Bromsgrove, Warwick, Erdington, Worcester and Solihull.
Martin Downing, managing director at Miller Homes, West Midlands region, said: "Whilst the New Year has started quietly, we are opening eight new outlets during the first half of this year and interest in these sites is high, which gives us confidence in our prospects for the year ahead."