Preston's Church Street will be a "ghost town" by the time the Tithebarn bulldozers get moving in 2012, according to traders.
Businesses in the "forgotten" end of the city centre fear the latest delay, which will see construction work on the 700m scheme on hold for the next three years, could be "the final straw".
Imtiaz Patel, of the Naseeb Tandoori takeaway, said an offer was made for his shop five years ago but he turned it down after the council "dangled a carrot" of Tithebarn.
Now he fears he will get a fraction of the value when it is subject to a compulsory purchase order as the council buys up land to build the city's new bus station to the rear of his shop.
He said: "The council can afford to spend money maintaining their buildings while they wait around for Tithebarn, they have taxpayer's money to spend, what do we have?
"No-one is going to want to invest anything now, we have had 10 years in limbo and now we have even more, I think a lot of people will think it is time to move on."
Parviz Shasvar, who is opening Rooms nightclub in the old PR1 building, said traders in the area now had to get together and put an alternative to Tithebarn to the council.
He has completed a 150,000 refurbishment of the club, and says he is "focusing on his own business" because he cannot afford to wait for the work to start.
John Chesworth, managing partner at Harrison Drury Solicitors, which is representing a number of Church Street traders, said businesses in the area "felt abandoned".
He said: "They are looking at another delay before they even find out what they could get for their businesses. It is amazing they have managed to keep going for as long as they have."
Preston Council leader Ken Hudson has said the authority cannot put a date on when the Tithebarn scheme would start while Peter Kuit, the council's director of development, has insisted it will be "worth the wait."
>>Tithebarn project demolition zone unveiled
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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