Former super-cinema Majestic - later known as the Majestyk nightclub - had been earmarked as a cornerstone of future development in City Square.
The building, opened on June 5, 1922, was awarded a blue plaque in July 2012. It had also been in the running to house Leeds’s first super-casino but those plans were later dropped.
It was renovated by the Rushbond Group in 2012. Hundreds of thousands of pounds was spent stripping back the interior of the former nightclub to make it ready for a developer to move in. It was hoped the impressive Grade-II listed building could be turned into a cinema or restaurant.
Thousands was spent painstakingly restoring the outside the building, carefully filling in tiny holes in the stonework, while inside, the building’s impressive dome and classical frieze dominated.
In its heyday it entertained thousands of cinema goers with its fan-shaped auditorium, complete with classical dome and Parthenon-style frieze - it was capable of seating up to 2,800 people. Music was played to accompany the films on the Grand Organ and by the Majestic Symphony Orchestra and dinner dances were often held in its restaurant.
In 1969 the Grade II-listed building became a bingo club and in 1996, it was the Majestyk nightclub, with a second club, Jumpin’ Jaks, in the basement.
Reacting to news of the fire, Dr Kevin Grady, director of Leeds Civic Trust, said today it was a great loss to the city, adding: “The great glory of the building was its dome and the frieze which was modelled on the Parthenon in Greece and showed classical Greek horsemen riding to war in chariots and men in wonderful helmets with plumes.
“It’s difficult to believe it can ever be brought back to it’s original condition. While I understand the building is structurally ok, so we are not going to lose the landmark, the challenge will be to restore the inside.
“Rushbond went to immense effort to get the outside of the building right, it had a bright future with the economic recovery happening.”
Fire crews were still at the scene this morning and were expected to remain there for some time.