The National Film Board building on Barrington Street has been an empty husk for more than 20 years, but the historic site is coming back to life now that a developer has the permits to go ahead with a rebuild.

The iconic four-storey, red brick building at 1572 Barrington Street dominated the area until it was gutted by a fire in 1991.

It has sat in ruin for 23 years.

"With snow and ice and rain acting upon it, it's weakened the masonry considerably,” said developer Steve Caryi of Ruby LLP.

"That's really been the poster child for neglect on downtown Halifax for a long time. To have that renewed and looking as good as it possibly can will take away a big eyesore and I think it will probably improve the prospects for neighbouring businesses as well."

The building opened its doors in 1891 as the St. Mary's Young Men's Total Abstinence and Benevolent Society Hall.

It housed other tenants before the fire destroyed everything but the façade.

Caryi says he will preserve the front as he creates a new five-storey building inside the ruins.

"Two levels retail on the first two floors and it's going to be 16 apartments in behind that and above it,” he said.

Caryi plans to start work by the end of this month. It'll take about 16 months to complete the project.