The many fans of Spark York have some uplifting news today.
The box park on Piccadilly, featuring a range of street food and drink, shops and community activities, is set to stay for at least another three years.
Council officers are recommending that Spark’s lease, due to run out on 31 October next year, is extended to 31 October 2026.
That will allow more time for the council to explore a way forward for the area after plans to redevelop the Castle Gateway stalled.
A report to the City of York Council executive meeting says: “The granting of a further headlease of the site to Spark York will provide greater security to this local business and allow continuity of operation for a vibrant city centre venue which is home to a multitude of small businesses, and part of the vibrant city centre offer to residents and visitors.”
Spark opened in May 2018, but was always set up on a temporary basis.
However, it has proved hugely popular with both locals and visitors, and has become an incubator for start-up businesses, 21 of which have gone on to open bricks and mortar venues in York.
“Spark York has proven to be popular and continues to bring vibrancy and activity to Piccadilly. 17 out of 19 units are currently occupied and the others are under offer, particularly appealing to start-up businesses,” the report says.
“They also estimate that there is a £4m turnover from current businesses providing 65 jobs and attracting 400,000 visitors a year to the facility.
“They also advise that they provide free space to community groups to meet which has totalled 800 hours in the last year.”
It adds the extension will also allow the team behind Spark “the opportunity to identify an alternative location in the city”.
Spark’s Piccadilly site is earmarked for affordable housing in the long term. But the council says there has been a lack of interest from providers in building affordable homes there.
The extension “will provide further time to work with Spark to ascertain if an alternative venue within York could be suitable, such as York Central. Affordable Housing provision on this site will continue to be explored.”
Earlier this year, co-founder Tom McKenzie said they had tentatively identified an area behind the station as a potential new location, making it part of the York Central development.