FOR the past 29 years it has been one of the first buildings seen by passengers emerging from Sheffield rail station.
Now the former students’ union building is starting to disappear, another relatively modern piece of the city centre that has failed to stand the test of time.
Demolition started this week to clear the site ready for a four-star hotel and offices, which will eventually have the address 1 Sheaf Square.
The original red brick building opened in 1978 as the Phoenix, a students’ union for the then Sheffield City Polytechnic. It became the Nelson Mandela Building in 1982 in tribute to the then jailed anti-apartheid campaigner.
Students last enjoyed a drink and a concert there at the end of 2004, just before the Hallam University union moved across the road to the former National Centre for Popular Music.
The site was bought by regional development agency Yorkshire Forward and it was executive director Jan Anderson who handed over the keys to the Controlled Demolition Group, which expects to finish the job by mid-December.
Already outline planning permission has been granted to developers CTP St James for the new uses and the task of finalising a hotel operator is understood to be nearing completion.
Jan Anderson said: “This site is extremely well served by the road network and public transport and answers the growing demand in the city for high quality offices as well as providing the city with a prime location for a new four-star hotel.
“The redevelopment of the site represents a further step in creating a magnificent ‘entrance’ to Sheffield, enhancing the fabulous new public square and public realm at the station and along Howard Street.”
A total of 70,000 sq ft of offices is planned.