A plan to bring the landmark Everton Library back into use as an arts and cultural centre is set to move a step closer.
The Grade 2* listed building – known as the Jewel on the Hill, was designed by City Surveyor Thomas Shelmerdine and opened in 1896.
It was widely acknowledged as one of the most architecturally significant branch libraries in the city. It closed in 1998 and has been empty since 2002.
Plans to revitalise the building began in 2009 and it is being driven by a specially formed new charity – The Jewel on the Hill Buildings Preservation Trust Limited. It involves arts organisation Hope Street Limited and Heritage Works Buildings Preservation Trust Limited, which specialises in regenerating historic buildings.
The aim is to restore the building and use it as a cultural and arts hub for creative enterprise as well as engaging local people in learning about its history and the practical skills involved in restoration.
On Friday 20 June, the council’s Cabinet is being asked to approve a grant of up to £150,000 through the Buildings at Risk programme to help towards securing a Heritage Lottery grant for the £5 million project.
Under the proposal, the council will also grant a 125 year lease to the Jewel on the Hill Building Preservation Trust at a peppercorn rent, if funding and planning permission is secured for the scheme.
Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, Cabinet member for regeneration, said: “This is a fantastic project which we hope will bring back into use a much-loved landmark building in Everton.
“The scheme that has been put together by the Jewel on the Hill Building Preservation Trust is visionary, and complements all of the other work we are doing in the area such as Project Jennifer, the regeneration of Everton Park and the recent opening of the new Notre Dame Catholic College.
“This is a very exciting time for the Everton area as we breathe new life into an area which has been neglected for far too long.”
David Lowther, Vice Chair of Jewel on the Hill Buildings Preservation Trust, said: “This is an important milestone in this exciting project to breathe life back into this wonderful building.
“The Trustees are extremely grateful for all the help and support from the council.”
It is hoped that if the bids for all the elements of funding are successful, work can start on site in 2015 with the building reopening in 2017.