Spark:York to open in May with a brewery, shops, cafés and a performance space

Getting ready to open… Spark:York on Piccadilly. Photographs: Richard McDougall
19 Mar 2018 @ 11.12 am
| Business, Shopping

We now have an opening date for Spark:York, the innovative shipping container box park.

It will open at 4pm on Friday, May 4.

Twenty small businesses – including a brewery – will then begin trading from inside premises created out of converted shipping containers at the former Reynard’s Garage site on Piccadilly.

The opening has been delayed but now the countdown has begun the excitement can build.

“Everyone at Spark is hugely excited to announce the launch of the project after what has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes for close to two years,” said Spark:York director Tom McKenzie.

“The scheme has undoubtedly divided opinion at times, but we feel that creating a home for over 20 small, independent businesses in York will add significant value to the independent business community.”

Keeping faith

Decking being laid at the box park

The Spark:York team have businesses ready to move into the affordable units.

One of them is a microbrewery which will be moving some of its kit onto the Piccadilly site later this month.

Foodie outlets already announced include

  • Dough Eyed wood fired pizzas
  • Once Across The Garden vegan food
  • CWTCH coffee
  • and Tikk’s Thai Kitchen.

Alongside a vibrant food and drink offering are independent retailers, a business hub, and a performance space sponsored by the University of York St John.

Shops include:

  • Heart Of Wax vinyl and vintage
  • Veronica’s Accessories
  • Helston Street interiors
  • and Life And Soul Clothing.

“All of our traders have stuck by us through some delays to the build, so I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for keeping faith in the project,” said Tom.

“It’s plain to see what a fantastic city we live in, with The Sunday Times recognising York as the best to live in the UK, so we want to build on that reputation and add value where we can.”

First look

An architect’s drawing showing a finished Spark:York

Local residents will be among the first to see the site, with tours planned for the last week in April.

You can’t have a launch without a launch party, and that takes place on Thursday, May 3.

Invited guests will be treated to

  • a first view of the site
  • tasters from the food outlets
  • beer brewed on site
  • cocktails, wine, live music and immersive theatre.

The scheme was highlighted as part of the reason why the Sunday Times named York the ‘best city to live in Britain’.

And director Sam Leach feels this project will help to change perceptions of York:

We see this is a real chance to redefine how York is viewed by both residents and visitors to the city.

We want to prove that communities and business can be fundamentally aligned to achieve growth, increase opportunities, and bring people together.

Tom and I are life-long York residents, so we understand and respect York’s rich cultural heritage, and hope Spark:York will demonstrate how our city can also benefit from innovation.

‘Incredibly exciting’

Work underway at Spark:York

Traders are raring to go to. Vaughan Lewis is from York start-up wine-on-tap business, Liquid Liberation.

He said: “Our business is all about doing things differently and taking inspiration from what we’ve seen work so well overseas and in the UK.

“Being able to bring a fresh way of enjoying quality produce to our home city via this innovative project is incredibly exciting and we don’t believe we could get a better start in the city than Spark:York.”