But after five years of neglect and dereliction, there now appears to be competition for the honour of owning the lease on the Royal Victoria Pavilion, one of the tryptic of tragic eyesores on Ramsgate's dilapidated front (the other two being Pleasurama and the old Motor Museum. Oh, and our deserted port! Er, that's four.)
I was the first to suggest, back in 2008, that Wetherspoons should take it over (click here to read the story), when Rank scarpered to their current shed out at Westwood Cross. And now it seems my plan is coming to fruitation, with The Duffers extending the lease to 100 years to accommodate J D and his crew.
But wait! Coming up the rear is the lovely Emma Doherty-Irvine, the owner of several successful seaside rental properties here in the Millionaires' Playground, which attract thousands of visitors to the town every year. Her plan is to use the Pav more as a community space with food stalls and a market, along the lines of London's thriving Borough Market.
Emma is a highly motivated, young, Irish architect who is currently in the early stages of turning Albion House, here on the East Cliff, into a boutique hotel. She seems to have the knowledge, drive, and, most importantly, access to the financial backing to make things happen (it'll take millions to tart the place up). She fronted the film for Ramsgate's bid to win a portion of the Portas Town Team money last year, take a look...
So which horse to back? The decision will be crucial for the future of Ramsgate. Lord knows, we don't want to end up with another Royal Sands on our hands! Look what happened there, with TDC backing Tiny Terry's lame Swiss horse as if it was the only nag in town!
I'm not knocking Wetherspoons, they seem to have a tremendous track record when it comes to tarting up old buildings, they have the sponds, and Frank Thorley could certainly do with some competition. But they only want two-thirds of the building, and as far as I know there's no mention of using the rest for community space. And what if they do a runner in ten years time, like Rank?
Then there's the question of whether we need more 'community space'? Surely that's what that nice Dr Who lady is proposing for the old Motor Museum up on the grimy West Cliff? Kuh! I dunno!
Anyway, make your own mind up. You can watch Emma's very thoughtful presentation by clicking here, and take a gawp at her Facebook page here. Then vote in my 7 day poll on the right!