Plans have been unveiled to transform a historic Blackpool landmark into a hotel and leisure quarter.
Multi-million pound investment could see the former Post Office on Abingdon Street converted to a 50-bedroom hotel with a mezzanine courtyard boasting restaurants, shops and cafe bars.
The proposals have been submitted to Blackpool Council by husband and wife team Joe and Kelly Thompson of Thompson Contracts who bought the Grade II listed building last November.
Joe said today: “We think the former Post Office is a sleeping giant.”
The plans, which are expected to go before the council this autumn, propose locating the hotel within the old sorting office building accessed from Edward Street.
People would enter the first floor plaza from a ramp and steps opening into Abingdon Street, and the space could be used for outdoor entertainment and exhibition areas, partially sheltered by perimeter canopies.
Shops are earmarked for the ground floor of the Post Office.
The plans, which have been drawn up by Lytham based architect Gregory Musi of Abito Architects, would also see the restoration of some of the historic features.
Mr Thompson added: “I think it is a great building in the centre of Blackpool that is hugely under-utilised.
“Speaking with Blackpool Council, there is an appetite for better quality accommodation coming into town.
“The council is hoping to mobilise more conferencing at the Winter Gardens, and with the tramway coming up Talbot Road it also fits in with the transport policy.
“We are being very sensitive to the building and the external facades on both the Abingdon Street and Edward Street will be largely untouched.
“I think it will be great for the town.
“There is a lot of ongoing investment at the moment and we think this is a sleeping giant.
“Blackpool benefits from a lot of tourism, but we don’t see as many people coming into the town from the surrounding areas such as Poulton and Lytham.
“We would like to improve the offer for those people again.”
The Post Office was built in 1910, and was used by generations of people until 2007 when the counter service was relocated to WH Smiths in Bank Hey Street.
It re-opened temporarily to provide a parcel collection point, but has largely been empty prompting calls for something to be done with the building.
Since last October the sorting office has also been in new premises after relocating to a £7m new delivery office at Faraday Way in Bispham.
Thompson Contracts works on national projects with a range of clients including Las Iguanas, Prezzo and Cabana.
Coun Mark Smith, who is ward councillor for the area and also the council’s portfolio holder for business, welcomed the plans.
He said: “I would like to see some sort of strong development there as it would help improve the town centre and utilise this building.
“I would like to see something which enhances the area, and hopefully makes the most of the historical aspects such as the high ceilings and coving inside the old Post Office.
“In terms of a hotel development, personally I would hope the council can encourage something which is at least a four star standard which would encourage more high spending visitors to Blackpool.” Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said: “It is a beautiful building and a perfect location for a quality hotel.
“It would be wonderful to see it back in use because if nothing is done with it, it will start to look shabby.”
Mr Thompson said there was already interest from operators in the site which is being marketed by Duxburys.
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