Our vision is simple | Our approach is collaborative | Our compassion is real

Spark:York is a vision to transform Piccadilly and achieve social change. An ecosystem of our entrepreneurial community, where collaboration solves pressing social challenges. Our medium: the shipping container; delivers private, premium commercial units, workspaces and retail outlets, alongside essential communal space.

We are creating a destination. A local landmark and catalyst for change - both in its appearance and its operational environment to reinvent civic spaces and re-energise Piccadilly.

We have a complementary tenant mix of entrepreneurs from different sectors, with the curation of retail, food and drink, workspace and arts and culture. This encourages collaboration, knowledge and business skills to create ambitious yet resilient start-ups and innovative companies that can change York - now and in the future.

York is the new York.
— Sam Leach and Tom McKenzie, Spark:York


Our Story

From May 2018, York has a new destination. 

We are a community project, turning an empty city-centre site into a thriving village of enterprises - all of whom are independent, local and give something back to the community. 

Spark:York is a local project, for local people. We aim to share our experiences of travel, food, socialising and working to create the ultimate, inclusive space in the heart of York.

Spark:York consists of 23 upcycled shipping containers, arranged over two levels.

As a community interest company without shareholders, all profits are reinvested in the project and local community. 

The site has been designed, aesthetically developed and assembled by York's pocket-sized design + build team - Unconventional Design, a local company bursting with creative ideas and solutions from small spaces to large installations.

They were just the tonic for the very first Spark:York design session involving designs and lego blocks! UD's James and Clare Palmer, who were the co-creators of the Adventures of Stockeld Park, near Wetherby, from this point, put together a successful planning application alongside award-winning architect Carl Turner, who featured on Channel 4’s Grand Designs, and has previously created similar schemes in London.

The site was at one time an aviation factory and a Tram depot, before sitting underused and vacant for two decades before the building was demolished in 2015. 

The City of York Council wanted a temporary project to bring vitality and vision to a neglected area of the City, with huge potential. Piccadilly and the wider Castle Gateway of York may soon be York's most creative urban quarter.

Included within Spark:York will be :

  • Street food kiosks – unique street food not found elsewhere in the City
  • Beverage kiosks – serving alcohol and non-alcohol based drinks, tapping into the early evening, European-style way of drinking and socialising
  • Retail – selling unique products from small, independent retailers
  • Shared workspace – a Hub for socially-minded local start-ups, charities and entrepreneurs, providing hands-on support to help ideas flourish
  • Meeting / teaching space – a quiet, private space for meetings or classroom-type events
  • Stage and performance area – providing a platform for performing arts and a regular programme of events and activities for York residents
  • Public workspace – free wi-fi and desk space accessible to Digital Nomads or people needing a couple of hours space in the City Centre.