The people of Birmingham were yesterday urged to back the redevelopment of the famous Fort Dunlop complex.
The call came from Nathan Cornish, senior development manager of Urban Splash, which is transforming the former tyre factory into a £45 million mix of office and leisure schemes.
Speaking at the Breakfast Connection event at the International Convention Centre, Mr Cornish said it was "a very difficult building to make work" and he told his 250-strong audience of business executives: "I hope you can get behind it."
He said the Manchester developer was excited to be involved, but bemoaned how no-one from the Midlands had been prepared to take it on.
"It is quite sad that a developer from Manchester is doing the job . . . a building that somebody from Birmingham should have taken to their heart."
Work started on the complex, which last produced a tyre in 1980, in 2004. It is now well on.
It involves bars and retail on the ground floor, 300,000 sq ft of offices and a 100-bed Travelodge hotel.
Its design sees the bright blue coloured hotel "crash into the building in a blue wedge".
And referring to its most recent use as a giant advertising banner site, easily seen by motorists on the M6, Mr Cornish said: "From the most famous banner site we want to change it into the most famous office site."
Noting some had challenged Birmingham that it could not be considered a new and vibrant city until the dereliction of Ford Dunlop had been dealt with, he noted: "We are very happy to be working in Birmingham."
Mr Cornish said the £5 million Travelodge would open next June.
He admitted there had been some initial reluctance from potential occupiers, putting this down to scepticism about whether anything would actually happen.
There had been too many "false dawns".
But once plans had been drawn up and it could be seen that Urban Splash was " serious" then attitudes changed.
There will be 45,000 sq ft of offices and Mr Cornish said there had been "a lot of interest".
He said: "We are talking to occupiers at the moment, both UK and overseas."
Urban Splash is also working on the 17-acre Walsall Waterfront project, near to the town's new art gallery.
Mr Cornish said that, despite the gallery, the area was yet to become an attractive destination.
It need places around it where people could eat and drink, and he promised the company would make that happen.
With a canal going through the middle of the site, it was a special opportunity, said Mr Cornish.
The 12-year-old Urban Splash made its name in the North-west with a series of regeneration schemes, typically with a mix of offices and apartments, in both Manchester and Liverpool utilising innovitive design and architecture.
Meanwhile NEC Group chief executive Andrew Morris told Breakfast Connection that the organisation needed "a good deal of re-shaping".
He said business development needed to be "much more aggressive", said a cultural change towards visitors had to be addressed, and re-iterated how £40 million was being spent to upgrade facilities.
And Mr Morris outlined how he wanted to double audience numbers from five million to ten million over the next ten years.
The ICC was having its "best ever year" and next week welcomes a Baptist Centenary Congress. A new auto show, MPH, headed by Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear team, is set for the NEC in November and Birmingham has bid for the massive ITU Telecom show against Geneva and Paris.
It happens every three years and Birmingham is aiming at the 2009 event.
It would take up 50,000 bedrooms in and around the city.
Indeed so keen are the team to land it, rather than spend £1,000 on couriering the bid documents to the organisers in Geneva, a representative was sent on a £400 easyJet ticket to deliver them personally.
A decision is expected in January.