A new shopping arcade could soon be created inside a large, empty store in York city centre.
The location has been identified but not yet revealed, and could be turned into a space for 20 smaller shops.
Recent changes on the High Street, exacerbated by the pandemic, have seen several larger chain retailers close or move out.
But there is a demand for smaller, often independently-run, shops.
The idea of an arcade is not new – older York shoppers will remember both the Davygate Arcade and the Stonegate Arcade.
It’s time has come again, says a new consortium aiming to make it happen.
York Retail Forward is a new community interest company which is driving the project. Its founding directors are Phil Pinder and Judy Illing, chair and secretary of York Retail Forum, and Sarah Czarnecki, strategic partner at Grays Court Hotel.
Attracting new names
The York BID is backing the idea, and has put some money towards creating a new website detailing all the shops available to let.
Phil says they have identified around 100 companies which are looking to expand in the North of England, and about 30 to 40 of these are specifically targeting York.
Phil told YorkMix: “If you’re looking for a new house you can now look on a couple of websites and all the available property shows up.
“No such thing exists for commercial property like shops, so we’re looking to make this process as simple as possible for those looking to invest in York.”
City of York Council and Make It York are also supporting the idea.
Sarah said York had to rebuild after the pandemic. “The large number of empty retail units in the city centre offer the opportunity to think strategically and present innovative solutions for the use of this space,” she told YorkMix.
“Many businesses based in the south of England are realising the potential to establish a presence in the north.
“The accessibility of York sees us ideally placed to reach out and work with these businesses by offering attractive spaces to work from which present lower operational costs in prime locations.”