Wolverhampton's £300 million Summer Row shopping dream was today declared officially dead after a last-ditch attempt to salvage it was scrapped.
More than six years of work trying to get the showpiece complex off the ground is now in tatters.
Council chiefs said the ambitious project to create a rival to the Merry Hill Centre was no longer viable, as the deadline for buying up 200 shops to make way for it loomed.
The decision comes two years after a funding deal for half the cash with a consortium of three Northern Irish businessmen collapsed in December 2008.
Developer Multi UK has since failed to find a new backer.
Summer Row would have meant the buying up of shops in Temple Street, Cleveland Street, Worcester Street and the southern end of Victoria Street and replacing it with a 600,000 sq ft shopping complex anchored by Debenhams and Marks & Spencer as well as boasting restaurants and a bowling alley.
Other major retailers including H&M, Jane Norman, Warehouse and Monsoon had all confirmed an interest in moving in.
Admitting defeat, Wolverhampton City Council today said around £50,000 of public money had been spent on consultants and legal advice in the past few months, with the rest of the costs underwritten by Multi.
Regeneration chief Councillor Peter Bilson said: "We tried to do everything in our power to salvage the scheme and our officers worked around the clock.
"Unfortunately the more we worked the more we concluded that the scheme was not viable. We cannot put public resources at risk."
The council had until February 11 to enforce compulsory purchase orders on shops and buildings before permission from the government expired.
Councillor Bilson added: "Enacting the CPOs and seeking another developer would also have been extremely risky."
He said all options for regenerating the Snow Hill area were now "on the table" and called for developers to come forward with any ideas, such as for offices.
Paul Sargent, managing director of Multi UK, said: "Naturally we are deeply disappointed at the council's decision after six years working on Summer Row, but we are sympathetic in the current economic climate of uncertainty."
There was no mention today of compensation for traders whose livelihoods have been blighted by the failed project.
* More reports and reaction in Tuesday's Express & Star.