The first stage of the #2 million transformation of Birmingham's Paradise Forum shopping centre is near to completion.
Owned by developers Argent, the centre, between Victoria and Centenary Squares, will eventually become a multi-million pound mixed use development.
But in the short term Argent intends to significantly upgrade the walkway to cater for the estimated 11.8 million people who pass through it every year.
The south side of the thoroughfare has already been demolished and reconfigured to accommodate a series of new retail units which will be in a similar style to the McDonalds new store which kickstarted the project.
The next stage, which begins in the New Year, will see a similar programme on the north side of the walkway, currently occupied by Baguette Du Monde, Weatherspoons and the independently-owned New York Deli. The building will also be given a completely new lighting system and improved flooring.
James Heather, Argent project manager, said: "The location of the scheme offers unprecedented opportunities for retailers in the city.
"There are few locations in Birmingham that can offer the footfall of Paradise Forum and yet the occupancy costs will be a fraction of equivalent sites in the city centre. We are already enjoying extremely positive dialogue with a selection of high quality retailers including coffee bar, food and convenience store operators but nothing has been signed and the door is still open to businesses who want to take advantage of this opportunity."
The high number of people using the centre is the result of it acting as a vital link between the traditional city core and Brindleyplace and the ICC and is set to further benefit from the launch of nearby Baskerville House in the New Year and the proposed Arena Central development off Broad Street.
Argent says that the footfall is particularly high over the Christmas period as the number of people using the walkway increases by more than a third to an average of 1.3 million during December.
It is similar to that of a busy train station, a prime example being Piccadilly Station in Manchester which has become a popular destination for high street retailers following a multi-million pound upgrade.
Mr Heather added: "One of the major benefits for Manchester when it won the Commonwealth Games was that Piccadilly Station was completely transformed by a massive refurbishment.
"Where it was once grey and foreboding, now it is light and modern and has successfully attracted retailers such as the Orange Shop and HMV and we believe there are very relevant comparisons with Paradise Forum.
"While we wait to discover the long term future of the Central Library, this refurbishment will significantly enhance Paradise Forum and create a much improved retail and convenience location in the short term. In the long term, occupiers will be right at the heart of one of the most exciting developments in the city."
Argent, which acquired Paradise Forum and Chamberlain House in late 2004, has worked with University of Central England, the Prudential and Birmingham City Council on a masterplanning study that produced a scheme for the six acre site.
It will include 2.12 million sq ft of Grade A offices, retail, food and beverage uses, as well as residential apartments, a hotel and car park.