DEMOLITION work on the third tallest building in Chester begins this month.
Commerce House in Hunter Street was built in the 1960s and towers over the bus exchange, with only Chester Cathedral and Chester Town Hall being taller.
But the office block has stood empty for years and has been dubbed an eyesore.
Workmen are preparing to start the painstaking demolition process, which will take about 18 weeks to complete and see about 300 lorry loads of rubble removed.
Commerce House is being flattened to make way for the new theatre and cultural venue.
Cllr Stuart Parker, executive member for culture on Cheshire West and Chester Council, said the demolition would ‘herald the beginning of a new exciting era for Chester’ and show the public work on the theatre was moving ahead.
CWaC plans to open the long-awaited Gateway Theatre replacement in the Odeon building in 2016 and the complex will extend onto the site of Commerce House.
The £37 million project includes a main theatre with up to 800 seats, a smaller studio theatre with 150 seats, library, cafes, bars and a 120-seat cinema.
Manchester specialists Vale Park Demolition Services have been handed the £237,000 contract to demolish Commerce House.
Tom Perks, contract manager for Vale Park, said the building would be taken down ‘floor by floor, piece by piece, brick by brick’.
Commerce House stands in a conservation area and the Department for Communities and Local Government had to approve the demolition.
The office block is located within the site of the historic Roman fortress and archaeological trial digs will be carried out to explore the possibility of unearthing remains which could be preserved within the foundations of the new building.
Mr Perks said: “The whole of Commerce House will be scaffolded and screened and all residents will see is the building reduced in size floor by floor until there is literally nothing left.”
Strict controls will be in place during the demolition and it is hoped disruption to bus services and traffic will be kept to an absolute minimum.