COUNCIL leaders in Swansea have agreed to buy and redevelop the Palace Theatre and hinted at further acquisitions to come.
Cabinet members approved three recommendations relating to the derelict listed building at a meeting on September 19, with commercial discussions then taking place in private.
Council leader Rob Stewart went public with the Palace Theatre proposal last week, saying the privately-owned building was set to be brought back into public ownership and converted into office, retail and some community space.
The High Street project will take up to three years and be funded by a Welsh European Funding Office grant of around £5 million, with a smaller sum likely from the authority.
One of the recommendations is that the council carries out due diligence to ensure the purchase price represents best value.
Speaking at the cabinet meeting, Cllr Stewart said: “I don’t think it’s the last report we are going to see in the coming months, just to whet people’s appetites.”
The former theatre opened as the Swansea Pavilion in 1888 and closed in 2007 after a stint as a nightclub.
The cabinet report said it had become increasingly derelict since 2007, despite £110,000 being spent to make it safe and watertight.
The report added that the building’s private owners failed to secure Welsh Government funding earlier this year to help bring it back into use, prompting the council to step in.
The cabinet report said the refurbished building would be solely office accommodation, although there may be scope for a partial fourth floor for conference and theatre use.
It added that consideration would also be given for potential community space.
Cllr Robert Francis-Davies said the authority had to save the building, and that infrastructure projects in excess of £100 million were under way or planned in High Street.
Cllr Clive Lloyd said the fabric of High Street was “significantly different” to what it was five years ago.
“Let’s not beat around the bush,” he said. “The Palace has been an eyesore for many years.”
Cllr Stewart said losing the building, which has welcomed the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Sir Anthony Hopkins, would have been a “travesty”.
The Labour leader added that Coastal Housing had acquired a number of buildings along the lower end of High Street, while the council was in the process of buying up buildings further up the street towards the Dyfatty road junction.
He said: “It’s an area that has been neglected for far too long.”