TRADERS in Torquay's landmark Pavilion shopping centre have been told they must leave by the end of the year to make way for redevelopment.
The Nicholas James Group have proposed a luxury hotel scheme that includes the Edwardian building as part of it.
But traders fear that the building, 100 years old to the month, will be mothballed and left derelict if the project stalls.
Trader Jonathan Abery from Therapia said: " It was inevitable. We were worried about it. It has given us three months.
"We have known we were going to get our marching orders and logically the end of the year makes sense but the bottom line is they are basically going to mothball the building until such time as there is planning permission to redevelop it.
"Everybody feels disappointed and it is the end of an era but most people are resigned to it. A lot of people here now with have uncertain futures."
There are about 10 traders occupying downstairs units and a restaurant and bar upstairs with between 30 and 40 people employed by the businesses.
They were told by Marina Developments Limited representatives, which leases the building from Torbay Council, that they had three months to leave in a meeting last week.
MDL have a 125-year lease of the building from Torbay Council with 80 years left.
A spokesman from MDL said the proposal was part of the restoration of Torquay waterfront to its former glory.
An outline proposal for a four-star hotel and spa with new cafes and restaurants around the inner harbour with residential apartments is due to be unveiled at a public consultation event in September.
She said: "We have notified all tenants personally and will be working closely with them to assist with relocation and support. We are working with the Torbay Development Agency and the Torbay Town Centres Company to explore new locations. We would stress that the Pavilion will remain open for trade over the forthcoming autumn and Christmas period and would encourage people to visit the shopping centre prior to this prestigious building embarking on a new era as a quality hotel."
"The fact the proposed scheme is being brought forward for public consultation next month with a view to submitting an application later in the year is indicative that the scheme is moving forward and parties are eager to proceed."
Engineers need to carry out structural surveys on the building before any work can be carried out.
It comes after a revised scheme, which does not include apartments on Cary Green, were presented to Torbay's design review panel and a group of cross-party councillors.
Tormohun ward Cllr Darren Cowell attended the meeting.
He said: "I would hate to see the building mothballed and become a Palm Court or Torwood Street. But it is encouraging to see the owners of the site being optimistic that developers are keen to see it go ahead quickly. But it hasn't gone through planning yet.
"Subject to the details of the designs, I say get on with it because right now all we have is a car park with the best view in Britain."
Alan Freeman, owner of the Harbour Breezes leather shop, was happy with the plans.
He said: "The area will be completely unrecognisable in three years' time. It will finally be in the 21st century.
"The Pavilion is a diamond stuck in the sand which needs to be exposed."
Coleen Riley, manager of Petit Gourmet Cafe for the last 11 years, said: "It is the end of an era. We have got to move with the times. It is sad and I don't know what's going to happen. But trade has not been great lately. "
Ashley Humphreys, from Marina Gifts shop next to the Pavilion said: "To have a boarded up Pavilion will not be good for my business. If there is nothing for people to come to then they will not come.
"We're in limbo. This development has been going on for two years. It's ridiculous."
The Pavilion was scheduled for demolition in the early 1970s, but was saved by campaigners and re-opened in 1987 as a shopping centre.