Middlesbrough Council has acquired a major landmark for £12m as part of a drive to secure the town centre's long-term future.
The purchase of the Cleveland Centre was completed this week, with the council agreeing to purchase the shopping centre that changed hands for £85m less than six years ago.
The move has been hailed by the Mayor of Middlesbrough as another important step in ensuring long-term jobs and breathing new life into the town centre.
Commenting, Mayor of Middlesbrough, Andy Preston said the council was "stepping in to save" the centre.
He said it was the latest in a series of "innovative" acquisitions enabling Middlesbrough Council to ambitiously manage the future of the town centre.
It follows the authority's purchase of the strategically important Captain Cook Square and House of Fraser sites.
The Cleveland Centre has been the town's retail focal point since it opened in 1973 and covers 30% of the overall retail space in Middlesbrough’s town centre.
Mr Preston said the authority’s investment strategy would help to transform the future of the town centre through a better balance of retail, leisure and residential space.
Over the longer-term, it is planned that a healthier mix across the town will help to attract investment and increase footfall, revitalising the town centre and delivering much-needed economic benefits.
Mr Preston added:
"A stronger town centre is essential for the prosperity of everyone in Middlesbrough. It's better for jobs, better for mental wellbeing and it helps the council to provide the best possible services.
"So, buying such a fundamental town centre site makes absolute sense as we try and future-proof the centre of Middlesbrough.
"Struggling town centres isn't just a Middlesbrough problem. High streets everywhere are having a tough time and this savvy move makes sure we can be in the control of our own destiny.
"I'm determined that we won't simply stand by and see what happens. When there's a solid business case to intervene, we will.
"We've played a patient waiting game, driven a hard bargain and hammered down the price.
"We've purchased a town centre asset that sold for £85m just over five years ago for just £12m.
"We are stepping in to save it for a fraction of that price to help build a better future for our town.
"We have amazing independent businesses and great places to enjoy a meal or night out with friends.
"We're also attracting new investment and are making progress every week to make sure central Middlesbrough has the perfect mix of retail, leisure and homes.
"The Cleveland Centre is home to many thriving shops and that will be the case for a long time to come but changing retail patterns means we can no longer rely solely on retail to attract people into our town centre.
"Now that we own the Cleveland Centre along with Captain Cook Square, we can help to consolidate and support our retail offer and look to the future with confidence and ambition.
"We'll announce more details in the months ahead."