After nearly a decade lying empty the former ABC cinema on Lime Street in Liverpool is to be transformed into a New York-style 'supper club' and boutique hotel by developer Urban Splash.
The seminal regeneration specialist was selected as preferred developer on the listed building by its owner English Partnerships (EP).
The listed art deco building, dating from 1931, has been vacant since 1998. Government agency EP acquired a 150-year lease on the 10,000 sq ft cinema from Liverpool City Council in September 2003 for £1m.
Bill Maynard, managing director of Urban Splash's Liverpool office, said: "This high profile building is an important part of Liverpool's architectural history. We are very keen to restore this architectural gem and its glorious interior will form a magnificent backdrop for the proposed supper club."
Urban Splash plans a conversion of the main upper auditorium into a luxury New York-style 'supper club', which will be accessed via the main ground floor foyer and lobby; conversion of two smaller cinema screens on the ground floor into new retail leisure units with independent access from Lime Street; and a boutique hotel on the top floor.
Paul Spooner, regional director of English Partnerships, said: "The ABC cinema building is Grade II-listed and many of the internal features must be retained and enhanced. Integral to the plans is Urban Splash's commitment to comprehensively and sensitively refurbish the cinema to its former glory. This is a fantastic-looking building on a key site in the city and we are very excited by the concept presented which will enable it to play a key role in Liverpool's vibrant social scene once again."
The challenging interior has sloping floors and eight levels over five storeys. Externally, it is also a prominent eyesore at one of the main entrances to the city, opposite Lime Street station.
Jim Gill, chief executive of urban regeneration company Liverpool Vision, said: "The scheme requires an imaginative developer and Urban Splash has the experience to deliver a quality scheme."
Work on cleaning the stone exterior of the cinema – to improve its appearance in the short term – is currently being undertaken by EP.
Urban Splash has commissioned local firm Snook Architects to work on detailed design proposals for the building.
Plans are to be submitted for approval in July 2008 with work expected to start on site in late 2008 and be completed by mid 2010.