Builders working for Harris CM have been at the former Next store for months aiming to create a modern unit that can be put to a variety of uses.
But eagle-eyed passersby may have noticed a lack of progress behind the hoardings over the last few months. And those with a long memory will recall the £1.5m project was originally due to be completed in October.
When the scaffolding came down recently it revealed… a hole in the ground where the building had been, plus a new breeze block lift shaft at the rear of the site.
WHAT'S GONE WRONG?
Owner David Woodhead of Woodhead Investments said they had encountered structural problems. Original cast iron columns they hoped to reuse had proved too weak, forcing them to start from scratch.
The project is now expected to be completed in October - some £200,000 over budget.
He said: “It’s unfortunate but the columns weren’t of the quality we envisaged. But now we’re back on track.”
No occupier had been signed, but he was unperturbed, he added.
“Often people don’t want to commit until something is ready. Nine to 12 months is too far in advance these days. I’m expecting more confidence the more distance we are from the pandemic,” he said.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING ON FARGATE?
The company also owns the former Thomas Cook/Hays Travel shop two doors down and has put a new roof on it ahead of a revamp, he added.
It comes as money pours into Fargate - which is the worst it's been due to the internet and Covid - thanks to the Future High Streets Fund.
Unused upper floors on Fargate and High Street are set to be converted or revamped to create flats, offices and even a hotel.
The provisional list includes:
Central Buildings, the white office block which replaced the famous Cole Brothers shop, is earmarked for a huge revamp after standing empty for years
At the top of Fargate, Orchard House, which has Virgin Money on the ground floor, is also set for an office upgrade
‘Fargate Evolve’ could see existing flats converted into prestigious serviced apartments with a reception desk
The former Topman is being converted into a four-storey office with ground floor reception. A £900,000 grant from the taxpayer helped make the £6.5m scheme ‘viable’.
26-28 High Street, a former building society next to Max Spielmann, is earmarked as a hotel
Former shops in Orchard Square are set to be turned into flats. A £750,000 grant is set to go to London & Associated Properties to convert disused space and improve the ‘public realm’.
These ‘Front Door’ schemes are set to cost £31.1m, in a combination of public and private cash.
But there are other multi-million projects in the pipeline.
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Sheffield City Council plans to buy two buildings, the former New Look on Fargate and 26-28 High Street, for £2.4m.
The plan is to ‘white box’ them - strip them out so they are ready for a new occupier to install what they need.