IN a reverse of the fairy tale transformation, the White Swan Hotel in York has been a great big ugly duckling for almost as long as anyone can remember.

This prominent building in Piccadilly has been partially derelict since the hotel closed in 1982. Since then it has been a symbol of neglect.

The impressive mock-Tudor structure, still bearing the long-defunct hotel's name, stands at a key junction in this thriving historical city. Its sad condition is a disgrace - so much so that six years ago, the sorry hotel was voted York's biggest eyesore in the Proud To Be York campaign run by the Evening Press.

Two years ago, squatters invaded the shamed property - and, while their actions could not be condoned, they did at least highlight once again the city's worst case of neglect.

Now it appears there could be good news at last about this building, said to be worth £2 million. The property's managers are looking for two new business tenants for the four-storey building, which was built in the 1920s.

Finding two new businesses would be the first step towards what are described as "substantial developments". While York residents could be forgiven for believing that when they see it, this is definitely encouraging news.

If the Spurriergate development, which is racing ahead, shows the proud new face of York, the White Swan Hotel shows the city's old and battered face.

The facelift can't come soon enough.

Updated: 09:43 Monday, June 20, 2005