The £3million required to renovate the derelict Grant Lodge in Elgin’s Cooper Park will have to be sought from outwith Moray.
The Georgian listed-building, which had lain empty since being badly damaged by a fire in 2003, has long been the source of controversy.
Campaigners have repeatedly criticised Moray Council for not doing anything to renovate the site in the 11 years since.
However, a meeting this week has recognised that, given the current difficult financial situation faced by the local authority, funding will have to be found elsewhere.
The meeting at Elgin Academy on Monday night was widely hailed as constructive by the various interested parties who attended.
Councillor Barry Jarvis said: “We can’t change the past. We need to put it behind us and go forward together.
“The Scottish Government has designated 2017 as the year of innovation, architecture and design. It’s possible that extra grants might be available then for projects like Grant Lodge.
“The task now is to prepare a proper business plan to take advantage.”
The meeting brought together council staff members, community groups and business leaders to air proposals for a variety of possible uses.
It was agreed that a small, short-life steering group will be formed to push the project forward, prior to broader community consultation.
Councillor John Divers said: “There’s a lot of work still to be done – it might be years before Grant Lodge is up and running again. But at least it has started.”
Meanwhile, campaigner and heritage enthusiast David Willox said: “There’s widespread agreement that Grant Lodge is too nice a building to just knock down. It should and could be used for a number of community roles.”
Grant Lodge was designed by renowned Scottish architect Robert Adam in 1750.
Along with the park, the building was gifted as a library to the people of Elgin by the wealthy Cooper family more than a century ago.