Stunning new buildings are set to transform a Birmingham "gateway" in a £150 million makeover.
Dublin-based developer The Naus Group has submitted a planning application to the city council for a £150 million mixed-use scheme fronting High Street Deritend, in Digbeth.
The 4.5 acre (1.8 ha) site, which includes the Irish Quarter, is next to Birmingham's coach station.
The scheme, called Connaught Square, includes 631 apartments and a four-star 180-bed hotel, incorporating 36 serviced apartments, with a sky bar and restaurant offering panoramic views of the city.
There will also be shops, offices, bars, restaurants, more than 1,000 underground car parking spaces, two new public squares and public amenity space.
The existing Irish Centre in High Street Deritend, will be replaced with a new community complex and a pedestrian boulevard giving access to two new public squares, one of which will straddle the River Rea.
The revamped President Kennedy mosaic, recently removed from St Chad's Circus, will also be found a new home on the site.
About 800 jobs are expected to be created by the developers' first major mixed-use venture in the UK - it has three decades' experience of residential developments in Ireland.
Andy Tollett, Naus's general manager UK, said the company's ambitious plans would kick-start the regeneration of Digbeth.
"High Street Deritend is one of the principal arteries into and out of Birmingham. But as visitors approach the city centre from the airport they are greeted by a line of run-down buildings with no architectural merit," he added.
"Connaught Square is in the shadow of the Bullring. Yet just 200 metres from the city's showcase shopping centre there is dereliction and neglect.
"We aspire to create a destination site to the east of the city, in much the same way that Brindleyplace has created a destination site to the west. Like Brindleyplace, Connaught Square will have the benefit of scale, presence, accessibility and a waterfront."
Work is expected to start early next year with the hotel ready for occupation by 2009 and the scheme as a whole completed by 2011.
Planning committee member Coun Ernie Hendricks (Lib Dem Moseley and Kings Heath) said: "I am quite excited by this project.
I would urge the developer to take a few risks to create an Irish Quarter that has as strong an identity as any other area."
Pat O'Neill, chairman of the Irish Quarter Partnership said: "It's exciting. At last we will get the Irish Quarter we have dreamed about for a long time. This will be a gateway for the area, a place people will want to visit rather than just drive by."
And former Birmingham Lord Mayor and member of Irish Community Forum Mike Nangle said: "This is great for the Irish Quarter and for Birmingham.
"There are still some details to be ironed out, but we will work with developers to get a community centre which is fit for purpose.
- Eastside development step nearer
Birmingham's largest regeneration project passed another milestone after the Local Government Secretary gave the green light to a major compulsory purchase order.
The Eastside development will cover 420 acres and is designed to regenerate neglected areas of Eastside and Digbeth through investment of £6 billion by a wide range of organisations and businesses.
Up to 12,000 jobs are expected to be created during the lifetime of the initiative.
Hazel Blears, the Local Government Secretary, has approved a compulsory purchase order submitted by Birmingham City Council as part of redevelopment plans for the area surrounding Curzon Street.
Eastside is located in the area between the Bullring and Lawley Middleway, and from Dartmouth Circus in the north to Bordesley Circus in the south.
It includes the Custard Factory, Aston University, a number of UCE campuses, Matthew Boulton College, and South Birmingham College.
Developments will include Eastside City Park, a major new environmental and leisure facility for the city covering eight acres.