The building was originally intended to be a Hilton-branded hotel serving Leeds Arena, but the project collapsed when construction contractor Oxford GB2 went into administration.
The site on the junction of Portland Crescent and Woodhouse Lane will now be turned into student accommodation, and part of the shell is being demolished to allow new work to begin.
A Â£4.8million loan that the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership gave to the builders is unlikely to ever be paid back.
The site is now owned by Select Property Group, who will turn the structure into 312 apartments under the Vita Student brand. Another eight floors will be added to the existing nine storeys.
Bradford-based demolition specialists Kayedem have been contracted to prepare the site.
Planning permission for the amendments to the original plans was granted in August.