Work has started on a £65 million ‘Chinatown’ development close to Sheffield city centre.
Construction is now under way on New Era Square, a 20-storey scheme featuring shops, food and drink outlets, student flats and office space.
The 86,100 sq ft mixed-use development will sit between St Mary’s Gate, Bramall Lane and Sheldon Street. Planning permission was granted a year ago.
The project is backed entirely by funding from China. When the scheme was originally announced in 2014, investors said they had checked London, Birmingham and Manchester before opting for Sheffield.
Initial work will focus on preparing the foundations.
The ground floor, featuring retail units, will lead out to an open-air square for events, while the existing KH oriental supermarket established 40 years ago will move to new premises.
Offices, an exhibition hall and a ‘business incubator’ to enhance trade links between China and the UK are earmarked for the first floor, while on the third floor there will be 700 student flats, capitalising on the growing number of international students coming to Sheffield.
Hundreds of jobs are expected to be created once construction is completed.
A party of key investors flew in for a traditional Chinese-style ceremony, where sand surrounding a plinth was turned over with shovels.
Jerry Cheung, managing director at New Era Development Ltd, said he was ‘thrilled’ to see the project pick up momentum.
“We have been working incredibly hard behind the scenes for many years to see our vision come to life,” he said.
“New Era Square is a landmark development for Sheffield, the region and the UK. It represents substantial investment for the city and is set to create a cosmopolitan, urban destination, including the new public square, to bring people from across the whole community together.”
Mr Cheung started to work on the idea of a Sheffield Chinatown more than a decade ago. The concept initially included a casino and hotel, however, this project was dropped as the business climate changed during the recession.
The scheme has been designed by Sheffield architects Hadfield Cawkwell Davidson. Building works are being led by Derbyshire-based Bowmer and Kirkland.