These pictures show what the former Joplings store will look like after it is trasnformed into an ultra-modern city centre development.
The iconic Sunderland department store, in John Street, has stood empty for approaching seven years after the business went into administration.
Now work is under way to transform four floors of the building into accommodation for students, with an anticipated autumn opening.
Back in September, Sunderland City Council planning bosses approved an application by developers Jaspia Ltd to transform the massive corner plot into an 178-ensuite bedroom property for students.
In addition to the rooms, it will house retail units on the ground floor, while tenants will be able to make use of a private cinema, gym, fitness and yoga suites, a games and pool rooms, conference area and study areas.
It will also have a outdoor courtyard area, communal kitchens and lounge areas, with en-suites featured in the plans.
It’s a huge site but we are hoping to have it ready for September.Steven Kwan
Steven Kwan, a spokesman for Jaspia through 5 Star PR and Marketing, said: “Work has officially begun inside, with quite a lot of changes having already taken place.
“It’s a huge site but we are hoping to have it ready for September.
“The redevelopment of Joplings House is based on replicating the quality and facilities you would expect from a five-star hotel and will accommodate 166-bedrooms spread over four floors.
“There is just under 20,000sq ft of prime retail space where we are currently speaking to national franchises and local businesses so that we can recapture the essence of Joplings and bring back trade to the area, which unfortunately has been lacking since its closure in 2010.
“With our previous success in creating high quality luxury student accommodation, we saw a gap in the market where students are able to live in a modern, luxury accommodation at affordable prices.
“With nearly 10,000 students at Sunderland university, we believe that there will always be a demand for high quality housing for students, especially when it is affordable to the students and in great locations.”