The developer behind a £39m Tesco in the centre of Rotherham has urged the town to capitalise on the project by showing the world it was ready for further investment.
Stephen Holme, development director of Sheffield-based TCN UK, said other cities where they had sites, such as Bristol and Birmingham, were witnessing a great pace of change.
Mr Holme added: “Bringing this project to completion is a milestone in the regeneration of Rotherham’s town centre and has transformed the area positively, paving the way for renewed investment in the town.
“What is crucial now is that Rotherham capitalises on this level of change. South Yorkshire has huge development potential but is not yet witnessing the levels of investment and pace of change that we are witnessing across other sites in the UK.”
Rotherham’s national image has been battered by allegations of widespread historic child sexual exploitation which have sparked rallies by organisations including the English Defence League.
The 110,000sq ft Tesco is on Nottingham Street and the site of the former Civic Building, Central Library and Norfolk House. It opens on Thursday and could create up to 450 jobs.
Mr Holmes said he hoped it would pave the way for more development. The project includes a £4m spend on improvements including repaving Rotherham’s High Street and reinstatement of the town’s Hastings Clock as well as a new road junction between Drummond Street and Centenary Way.
Mark Thomas, corporate affairs manager for Tesco North, said: “We’re delighted to have completed the handover.”
The project was funded by Osprey Equity Partners and the main contractor was ISG Plc.