The £300,000 hub made out of shipping containers will be placed at the top of Fargate and feature food vendors, shops, toilets, living walls, outdoor seating and a big screen.
Construction is currently taking place in Leeds and it will be transported to Sheffield for the finishing touches before opening in a few weeks.
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Steel Yard Kelham, a Sheffield-based shipping container specialist, is designing and installing the development in partnership with the council.
Funding has come from government grants including the Get Britain Building Fund that was secured through the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority.
All of the businesses taking on a unit of the hub are local independents, four of which have been confirmed so far and there is space for a couple more.
Who are the Sheffield independents taking on the new Fargate attraction?
Paul Melbourne and his wife Lindsay started Get Wurst – the “home of German street food in Sheffield” – about five years ago after lots of trips to Berlin enjoying currywurst.
They have traded at festivals and events in and around Sheffield and are approaching the end of a year-long residency at Two Thirds Beer Company, on Abbeydale Road.
Mr Melbourne said they are looking forward to bringing their full menu of currywurst, bratwurst, schnitzels, raclette fries and vegan options to the heart of the city centre.
“We are really excited to be going into the new Steel Yard development and in a town centre location,” he said. “I think town seems to be buzzing again now and the development just looks really exciting. There is a good mix of food and retail.
“I think when you say shipping container it sounds pretty basic but when you’re inside you wouldn’t know you were in a shipping container with the way they are designed. They just look amazing. All the architect’s plans look amazing.
“Because we do festivals and events we are used to trading from a food truck and having a festival set up and trading in food markets and the units are almost like shipping container units so for us it won’t be that different to what we have already known.”
Speaking about the council’s wider plans to regenerate the city centre, Mr Melbourne said: “I think it’s quite exciting because obviously Covid just killed the town centre but it does seem like in the last six months that the city centre has really become thriving and buzzing again and there are a lot of people there.
“Fargate is the centre of town, some bits of it are nice and some aren’t so nice, so I think by putting a bit of money and effort into things it can quite easily be made into that really bustling spot.”
Yoki is planning to offer something a bit different to its current nearby site at Kommune, focusing on Korean street food including corn dogs, tteokbokki and sushi.
Jay Park, co-owner and architect at Yoki, said: “We wanted to start in the Sheffield food business to show authentic Korean food. When we open on Fargate it will be a good opportunity to introduce all of our food.”
Denny Song, co-owner, added: “We are really excited about it and the location being in the heart of Sheffield, I’m very into everything that is happening.
“It’s great excitement. Opening a new restaurant or shop is very challenging, there is a lot of preparation before it opens.”
Mr Park said the use of shipping containers has become very popular.
“So many people like it,” he said. “It’s something unique. It’s easy to access and easy to make, you can reuse containers and that’s why it’s so popular not just in England but South Korea as well.
“It should be great. It’s a variation for the city as well.
“It’s quite a small kitchen area but we are going to do our best.”
Reza Mir – who opened Re-Owned, a pre-owned clothing store, at Steel Yard Kelham in October 2020 just before the second lockdown – is excited to bring the buzz of Steel Yard to the city centre.
He said: “We are going to use it as a sort of pop up shop to bring more people down to Steel Yard because obviously the unit is not as big so it’s a good way to advertise the shop we already have. It will be good to get some new customers who don’t know about Steel Yard.”
On the council’s plans to regenerate the city centre, he said: “It’s really good, it’s what Sheffield needs to draw people back into the city centre.
“I’ve grown up in Sheffield and I’ve seen it through things like Castle Market and Sheaf Market and it all changed. I like the redevelopment and bringing independents to the centre. If it all goes to plan it should bring Sheffield back on to the map, where it should be.
“It will be a really nice asset to Fargate. People like the new concept of things being built out of containers with reusable materials, which works quite well with my stuff – that’s what we are into, sustainability.
“I’ve always been interested in setting up my own business and it gave me more freedom for my family and more freedom to do stuff. I love the concept of pre-owned clothing, it’s something I’m passionate about.”
Urban Pizza Co
Another business bringing a flavour of Steel Yard to the city centre is Urban Pizza Co which specialises in creative pizzas.
It started as an addition to Urban Entertainment which provides outdoor drive-in cinemas and opened at the site with a table service restaurant two years ago on the night of the first Covid-19 lockdown.
Michael Hayes, owner, said: “It’s always been a passion of mine, I’m a foodie and Sheffield has some great pizzerias and restaurants but there was something missing in the market to be more creative with what we wanted to implement.
“The first time I heard about it I was very excited, we were looking for something that would have a social environment. When we first heard about Steel Yard Kelham we were really interested in that, we were the first to open here, and as soon as we heard the plans for this we wanted to be a part of it.”
Talking about the project, he said: “It’s well needed, for Sheffield as a whole. I’m born and bred in Sheffield, I know it well. I’ve had business in the city centre and over the past 20 years I’ve seen a massive change and the downturn in the city centre.
“So it’s great that funds are being put into regeneration, I think we need to start bringing people back into the city centre again but that can only happen if we have the right businesses there and make it look aesthetically pleasing.
“I’m really looking forward to the mix we will have and the diverse crowds that every business will bring. Everybody is quite unique at what they do and they are very well known businesses. So I’m really looking forward to being part of that.”