Demolition of the run-down Castle Market site is set to finish by the end of this year – so work to turn it into the ‘commercial heart’ of Sheffield can begin.
The interior of the building, which was emptied as traders moved to the new Moor Market in November, is currently being stripped.
Coun Leigh Bramall said it was taking longer than expected because asbestos had been found but the work was was due for completion in the autumn.
He added: “When the markets moved it was always going to have an impact on the area and it’s difficult to improve that in a very short period of time.
“There’s a lot going on but obviously it does take a lot of time, it’s only been four months.
“There is no suggestion that we have forgotten about it.
“We have got plans in place to significantly regenerate the area and it’s one of the key places in the city centre.”
Demolition will be carried out ‘carefully’ to reduce the risk of damaging sites that will be excavated to look for remains of the old Sheffield Castle. An ‘urban pocket park’ with visitor centre is eventually planned to make the immediate market site a tourist attraction.
The wider Castlegate area is to become a new ‘riverside business district’ bringing together hotels, offices, shops and potentially the HS2 high-speed railway link if it is located at the Victoria Quays rather than Meadowhall.
But green spaces are likely to be created first, both to fill space until developments can get off the ground and to make it look more attractive.
Further sections of the river will be improved and the council has bought the former Passenger Transport Executive building with the idea of artists moving in.
Coun Bramall said that definite timescales would depend on the economy and HS2 decision.
He added: “We’re drawing up plans to create green spaces in the near future to make it look better, as we know there are a lot of hotels in the area.
“This area has so much potential.
“It’s the old heart of the city, it has the river and good transport links with the Parkway.
“If we got HS2 there I really think it would transform the area into the new commerical heart of the city.”