The regeneration of Birmingham's Irish Quarter has finally started, according to experts at residential agency Knight Frank.
Long touted as Birmingham's next residential hotspot, property professionals have long been waiting for the promise of Digbeth to crystallise.
However, with 2,400 units planned for developments around Bradford Street alone, their wait is over.
As a gateway to the city, the half mile long street is currently home to warehouses, dilapidated shops and under-used retail outlets.
Now, finally, Bradford Street is set to be transformed into a revitalised district of mixed use developments which will reignite interest in the area long overshadowed by Birmingham's booming west side.
Ben Pryce-Boutwood, partner at Knight Frank Birmingham, said: "Historically Birmingham was born in Dig-beth with Bradford Street being the first main thoroughfare through the city. As such it is somewhat ironic that its regeneration has been overlooked as developers focused on the Convention Quarter and Jewellery Quarter.
"Now, however, the district is finally coming of age, and investment in new development once again is focused around Bradford Street.
"Several schemes are already under way and in this area alone planning permission has already been granted to 11 schemes providing around 2,400 apartments, and we expect the majority of these to have come to fruition well within the next ten years."
Knight Frank believes that a number of sites have been held by property speculators and developers for a long time and have simply been waiting for market demand to shift in the Digbeth direction.
Now, triggered by the Bull-ring, the first phases of Masshouse and the future redevelopment of the coach station, sales on the first s chemes have begun in earnest.
With creative 'gems' such as the Custard Factory and Irish Centre to its bow, Digbeth is already a successful location for those looking for an alternative night out to the mainstream areas such as Broad Street and the Arcadian.
Knight Frank says that planned mixed-use developments will not only increase the local resident population, but also the critical mass of people visiting, working and using the area.
This in turn will naturally trigger further bars, restaurants, shops and offices, enhancing the fabric of the area.
Planned landmark develop-ments in and around the area include a 330,000 sq ft mixeduse development on the site of the former International Stock discount retail chain, headed by John Cullen.
The property developer has also received planning permission for the extensive Harrison Drape curtain and fabric warehouse located further up Bradford Street. Together the two sites are set to generate over 500 apartments alone.
Similarly, the former Stone Galleon retail emporium is set to be converted into approximately 54 loft style apartments, whilst the famous S&K building will provide a further 330 new homes.
In addition a multi phase development by joint venture partner-ship Places for People and Concept Developments is already under way on the land bordered by Cheapside and Bradford Street.
However, Knight Frank said it was award-winning developer Country & Metropolitan which was the first to invest in the area, starting its conversion and new build scheme at the former Abacus depository on Bradford Street back in early 2005.
As the development cascades down Bradford Street, demand for Digbeth living is expected to impact upon the industrial distributor roads around it, especially around t he canal area to the north-east.
Residential demand will also be fuelled by the continued popularity of Birmingham's nearby theatre district.
Mr Pryce-Boutwood added: "With a closer proximity to the city core, residential schemes located within Birmingham's theatre district have naturally commenced earlier, but positioned so close to Digbeth, their success is having a positive knock-on effect.
"Crosby Homes 'Southside' was a catalyst for theatre district living, and as Birmingham's largest apartment scheme to date, it is one of the city's most popular residential addresses.
"The developer's second scheme in the area 'i land' is due to start on site later this year with over 400 further homes.
Likewise 'Latitude', George Wimpey City's first foray into the Birmingham city living scene is also due for a 2006 start with their 189 units gearing up to launch this summer."