Published Friday, 20 April 2012
The Athletic Stores building in Belfast which is now set to be demolished. (© Pacemaker)
The Planning Department has given permission for the complete redevelopment of the site, replacing the existing building with new retail and residential premises.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said it was "with regret" that he had reached the final decision.
"I have worked to see if the building, even the façade, could be saved," he said.
"It has been a hard decision, but I believe the better one.
"In coming to this view, I have been mindful of the risky state of the building, the unhealthy state of the property market and the disproportionate and uneconomic costs to even save the facade."
According to the department, the building has serious structural flaws and is leaning into the street - leading to the conclusion that the foundations and structure could not be refurbished to provide the new units.
"I interrogated the Belfast Planning Team on the application. I asked for facts and figures to be produced and tested. I visited the location twice and on the second occasion I invited representatives from the Ulster Architectural Historical Society to join me," Mr Attwood added.
"I wanted to demonstrate that any decision - whatever its nature - was made having looked at the issue from every side."
Decorative features of the building are to be salvaged, while it's hoped that the new project will boost an area which has been in an increasing state of decline.