Landlords are being urged to invest Fargate to compete with The Moor - and Sheffield Property Association stands ready to help them.
The shopping street needs an update after millions were spent on the rival pedestrian zone.
But whereas The Moor has one owner, pension fund Aberdeen Standard, Fargate has piecemeal, and almost entirely arms-length, ownership making collaboration difficult.
But the cash-strapped city council won’t be writing a cheque to pay for major upgrades any time soon, according to Alexi Krachai of Sheffield Property Association.
He added: “The S-PA stands ready to engage with landlords on Fargate to create something far bigger than one can deliver and then take it to the town hall for approval. The emphasis has to be on the market.”
The Moor had a record 13m shoppers last year, figures show. Fargate has suffered due to scaffolding on two building sites and empty units.
Two of its big names - Next and H&M - are relocating to The Moor.
S-PA chair Martin McKervey said: “The vast majority of owners are not local, they are institutions and pension funds where the building is on a spreadsheet in the boardroom.”
The S-PA’s offer comes as Sheffield enjoyed a record your for investment in property in 2018.
And while the council has little spare money, it still wields huge power over the sector. As well as greenlighting big schemes, it can guarantee them financially - it underwrote office block 3 St Paul’s Place, giving developers security they would get a return even if tenants could not be found.
Mr Krachai added: “We sense the council is finding it a lot easier to work with organisations like ours. They recognise they don’t have all the answers and their world is getting more difficult. We have to give them credit, they are trying their best.
“The S-PA can create a backdrop where we can potentially bring people to the table.”