Demolition would be better than leaving Beatties to fester, says homegrown Wolverhampton businessman
Henry Carver chooses his words carefully. He stresses that his suggestion is only a last resort, for when all other avenues have been exhausted. He is bracing himself for an inevitable backlash.
But he says if a new use can't be found for the former Beatties building, it should be demolished.
"I know it will be controversial, but if it really is uneconomic to restore the building, as the length of time it has remained empty would suggest it to be the case, then just pull the whole thing down," says Mr Carver, a senior member of Wolverhampton Business Forum.
Nobody can accuse this dyed-in-the-wool Wulfrunian of not having the city's interests at heart. The former president of Wolverhampton Business Forum, who runs Carvers Building Supplies, has spent £30,000 out of his own pocket hiring experts to come up with a plan to revive the city centre. The report, from The Retail Group and Tibbalds, is expected soon.
Braving the heavy rain on an afternoon walkabout in the city, Mr Carver points out all the under-utilised buildings in the city. Pointing to the first and second floors of the Victorian parades along Queen Square, Darlington Street and Victoria Street, he says there is so much scope for creating much-needed city centre living.
"There is a chronic shortage of residential property in Wolverhampton, and for many young people, the city centre is where they want to be," he says.
"My son has just moved back from London, and there every available space is turned into housing. The city centre has the transport links, and it is near to the shops, it will bring a bit of nightlife, and give the restaurants more business. It will also make it safer at night - it always feels safer when there are people around. And if there are more people around, the businesses will come back."