The building at Fargate, Sheffield

Nottingham developer set to boost fortunes of Sheffield city centre

A landmark building in the heart of Sheffield city centre is set for a makeover after being purchased by Nottingham property company ALB Group.

The 48,000 sq ft building, spanning numbers 2-18 Fargate, Sheffield, has been acquired for an undisclosed sum by ALB, as part of the developer’s mission to breathe new life into struggling town and city centres across the UK.

Already housing retail businesses such as Starbucks, Greggs and Hotel Chocolat on the ground floor, plans are underway to transform the four upper floors, totalling almost 30,000 sq ft of vacant office space, into apartments.

The move follows a similar refurbishment model employed by ALB Group in other UK centres, including Stoke-on-Trent, Ipswich, Birkenhead and Derby, which are already experiencing a turnaround in fortunes.

The initiative has been a major success in Nottingham’s Bridlesmith Gate area, where once vacant stores have been filling up with niche businesses, helping to achieve ALB’s aim of creating a vibe similar to London’s Carnaby Street.

Group managing director Arran Bailey has long been committed to finding ways to reverse the trend of decay in UK town centres, particularly by encouraging local, independent entrepreneurs to launch new high street businesses, by offering lower rents with more flexible terms.

ALB is seeking to do the same with its vacant retail units in the Fargate building.

Announcing his latest property deal, Arran said: “We are delighted to have secured yet another prime city centre building, right in the middle of Sheffield’s shopping district.

“All UK high streets have experienced troubling times for a number of years, and Sheffield is no exception. But with the right commitment from landlords like ourselves and by offering more forward-thinking terms, we can turn their fortunes around.

“Part of the secret is to ensure the huge amount of vacant upper floor space in buildings like 2-18 Fargate are brought back into use.

“Given the huge housing shortage, plus the frequently reported difficulties faced by first-time buyers, the most obvious answer is to turn this unused office space into much-needed, quality apartments or student accommodation. This not only provides homes in central locations, it adds footfall for the ground floor retailers – a genuine win-win situation.”

Rob Cassidy, Arran's business partner in this venture, said:  “We are absolutely over the moon to have purchased this prime building in the heart of Sheffield and we are looking forward to getting started on our plans.”

Some of ALB’s most recent city centre acquisitions that are undergoing a similar transformation include an 80,000 sq ft building in New Street, Huddersfield, Moxon Island shopping centre in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Sailmakers Shopping Centre in Ipswich, and seven key buildings in Derby city centre’s Albion Street.

Phil Daniels, director at FHP Property Consultants, who acted as acquisition adviser for ALB on the Sheffield transaction, said: “We’ve worked alongside ALB on several of these deals, and I must say Arran’s approach to our UK-wide problem of underperforming high street retail assets is always refreshing.

“He’s putting his money where his mouth is – and unlike many other high street initiatives, which may have proven ineffective or half-hearted, ALB is providing real solutions that are already working.

“By offering shorter, more flexible leases and lower rents, ALB is offering a lifeline to UK high streets and beginning to attract a new generation of traders, from coffee shops and fashion retailers to leisure activities.”