Anyone with the ability to look up will have certainly noticed a ruck of cranes scattered throughout Manchester's skyline of late.
Well, I CAN look up and the frequency in which I spy some cranes has motivated me to find out as much as possible as I can about these ‘exciting’ new developments around the city…
Old BBC site on Oxford Road/Charles Street
Anyone with fond memories of the old BBC building on Oxford Road certainly has a short memory. A concrete nightmare, the building looked like it had been designed by a robot who only managed to get a D in Art in his GCSE’s. Since being knocked down and everyone moving to Salford Quays, the space has spent many years as a rather manky looking car park. Now though, there’s a hive of activity going on as Circle Square becomes a wonderful glass and steel-based reality. Developed by Bruntwood & Vita, the area will comprise of 10 new buildings, each housing a host of apartments, retail spaces, offices and plenty more. Pride and place in the centre of all this will be ‘The Green’ – a large social space which will play host to theatre, arts, yoga or just plain old picnicking. There’s even space for a large rooftop restaurant, a hotel and an ‘energy centre’ which I’m going to assume is somewhere that will power the development and greatly reduce those pesky carbon emissions.
Elizabeth Tower & The Crown
There’s a distinct royal vibe at this development on the big roundabout at the bottom of Deansgate as workmen (and women of course) busily graft away at Elizabeth Tower and The Crown. Forming an integral part to the re-development of this area (alongside Deansgate Square), Elizabeth Tower will be 52 storeys tall and be packed with one, two and three bedroom apartments, a 44th floor swimming pool and royal garden, as well as the all-important retail spaces below. Alongside Elizabeth Tower will be the shorter The Crown, with 21 stories and nine townhouses. Once finished, the area will likely resemble a neighbourhood in Blade Runner, except with more rain and less Japanese adverts.
Bottom of Deansgate
Home to Manchester’s tallest skyscraper, Deansgate Square is a huge development that incorporates 4 new towers with over 1,500 apartments up for grabs. Occupying a space that’s pretty much just been absolutely nothing for 30 years, Deansgate Square will also be home to a private spa, swimming pool, sports hall, rooftop garden and even a library – all available to use if you’re loaded enough to get hold of an apartment. The externals of the two biggest towers are pretty much complete now, with the remaining two starting to slowly take shape. With the addition of the Elizabeth Tower just down the road, this mostly forgotten part of town is certainly getting an exciting new lease of life. You should also expect the obligatory retail units at the bottom, alongside some outdoor space in which to frolic in the Summer. Hopefully the spaces will be more than just a Tesco Metro and we’ll get some cracking independent bar and restaurant action too.
Old Man Met Business School on Aytoun Street
Aiming to transform this old den of concrete and textbooks into a ‘vibrant new cultural spot’, Capital & Centric & Henry Boot’s development of Kampus is well under way down on Aytoun Street. It’s another massive cluster of buildings, each having a different architectural style and function or set of things going on. There’ll be contemporary homes, boutique hotels, independent shops, bars and cafes, alongside a lot of greenery if their snazzy computer mock-up images are anything to go by. Set to be fully completed in 2020, there’ll be 533 apartments in two new blocks, a pop-up events space and most exciting of all (to me anyway) – the cobbled Little David Street that will act as a shop-lined alley complete with outdoor terraces for effortless Summer boozing.
Dakota Deluxe Hotel
If you go on down to Ducie Street right now you’re going to see more workmen than a YMCA convention, all eating bacon butties alongside some serious drilling, welding and general grafting. They’re putting the finishing touches to Manchester’s newest boutique hotel; Dakota. Due to open this May, Dakota is an award-winning hotel brand that are looking to bring high levels of service, style and sophistication at an affordable price to the city. Alongside the 137 rooms and 19 suites will be the Grand Deluxe Suite which is set to be the city’s biggest, as well as a 104 cover restaurant, champagne bar and even a Cigar Garden where you can smoke Cubans, drink whiskey and talk politics. Also in construction next door to Dakota is Eider House – home to 128 variable-sized apartments.
London Road Fire Station
The subject of many a heated discussion over the past 30 years, London Road Fire Station has finally been given the green light for a revamp and luckily for us it’s now Allied London in the driving seat. Previously it was owned by the widely-hated Britannia Hotels group, who own such travesties as Sasha’s in the NQ and of course the manky Britannia Hotel on Portland Street. Designed by Levitt Bernstein, this redevelopment will feature a 91 room hotel by Zetter, some significant retail and restaurant space as well as an underground events space where they’ll likely play old episodes of London’s Burning and Fireman Sam. It can only be an improvement both to the likely terrible ideas Britannia had with the space and its current occupation as a stunning but dilapidated death-trap. Construction started in August 2018 so expect it to be done around the 2020 mark.
Clayton & The Brooklyn Hotel
Once a manky glass fronted 70’s office block, this has now been knocked down to make way for two new hotels – perfect for many of the city’s visitors who will arrive at Chorlton Street Bus Station and Piccadilly nearby. Many may be disheartened to learn that these developments have contributed to the movement of Manchester Pride to Mayfield Depot this year, but I suppose there’s not much we can do about it – either put up with it or just not bother going ever again. In total there’ll be around 500 hotel rooms spread over the two developments, but at this moment in time I don’t really know how much different they will be. One is the New York-inspired Brooklyn Hotel which will come complete with a casino and restaurant, while the other is going to be under Dalata’s 4* Clayton brand – of which I know next to nothing except there’s a dull one near the airport. Images courtesy of Matthew Dalrymple
Manchester New Square
Bottom of Canal Street / Princess Street
Now we’re talking. Anyone who has lived in the city for any period of time will probably be sick to death of having a huge crater at the bottom of Canal Street just collecting dust, rain and the occasional rainbow flag thrown over during the Pride parade. Work has begun in earnest on Manchester New Square now though, with the aim to create 351 one, two and three bed apartments spread over 3 buildings. There’ll also be 5 large retail units alongside 2 restaurants (one of which will be a re-vamp of the old Eden unit alongside the canal). There’s no way I’d ever be able to afford to live in one of these apartments, not with the speed in which I spend my wages each month, but if you’re in the game for a new gaff and have close to half a mil in your bank account – Manchester New Square will be for you.
Back of Deansgate / Great Northern Warehouse
Starting with the erection of the huge Beetham Tower, Ian Simpson is certainly marking his territory in the city with Viadux; a huge development that aims to take an underutilised area of the city and give it a shot up the arse with glass and steel. With planning approved, this Ask Real Estate project will see the implication of a 40-storey residential skyscraper that will act as a sister building to Beetham Tower, alongside a smaller office block, new hotel and improved walkways and pedestrian access. To do this they’re looking to build upon the existing Grade II listed viaduct, as well as bridge the current Deansgate-Castlefield Metrolink tram line. The early elements of these developments can be seen already with the erection of the Axis building on the corner of Whitworth Street and Albion Street, a Property Alliance development that incorporates 173 apartments over 27 storeys.
Old Granada Studios on Quay Street
Taking over such a huge, iconic site, Allied London are looking to build a wealth of commercial and residential units in the old Granada Studios space on Quay Street, alongside a few other cheeky little additions too. The primary scheme will be the £1.3 billion St. John’s neighbourhood comprising a 200 bed hotel with rooftop swimming pool by Soho House, flexible working spaces and retail and studio units. Alongside this will be the 1960’s inspired ABC Buildings which will house a brand new Everyman Cinema and even more flexible workspaces. ABC will take over and re-develop the current 60’s office blocks which acted as the main Granada offices for over 50 years. Now that ITV has moved pretty much everything to MediaCity – I suppose there’s not much else to be done with this area of town – and looking at the flashy websites – it should be good.
Great Northern Warehouse
Ever since bursting onto the scene around the turn of the millennium, there have been many things about the Great Northern Warehouse that unfortunately just haven’t worked. The Deansgate Mews bit for one, which has always stood relatively empty despite serious attempts from the likes of B.Eat Street and more recently Siam Smiles to change this. The Warehouse itself also seems to have been under-utilised, with large empty spaces and a suspiciously low number of occupants in the units. This is all hopefully going to change though as Trilogy have now bought the space and are injecting some much needed capital into it. They’ll be getting rid of the weird ‘clock-tower’ thing that juts out of all of the Deansgate shops, as well as adding a range of apartments on the upper floors. There are also plans to add more greenery and trees to the area, as well as creating a brand new street that will run parallel to Deansgate. Planning application was granted in March 2018 so expect the scaffolding to go up pretty soon.
Hilton Street, NQ
A major redevelopment to one of the Northern Quarter’s unsightly eye-sores, Hilton House are due for a major revamp in the coming year as developer CERT and architects Buttress redesign and re-purpose this rather dilapidated office block. The Finest team were once unfortunate enough to end up looking for a new office in this block and were immediately dismayed at how tired and run-down it was. Well, this is all due to change as they add another 2 floors on top, as well as a new façade and a major refurbishment to the interior. There will be a new entrance, which will take over where The Shack bar once was on the corner, which has now moved to a new site where The Blue Pig once was on High Street.
No. 8 & No. 9 First St
The development of First Street continues its steady crawl, with building numbers 8 & 9 currently being constructed on the large empty sites towards the back of the most recent buildings. No. 8 will feature 187,000 sq. ft. of office space over 7 floors, with the whole 3rd floor being taken over by ODEON cinemas. No. 9 will also feature office space, but also a 205 room hotel on top too, this time located on the large waste land just on the junction of Medlock Street and River Street – a site that has stood empty for way too long now. Planning permission for the No. 8 sites was granted all the way back in 2015 so they’re certainly dragging their feet a bit. No. 9 was granted around 2 months ago so it’ll probably be years until we see anything significant go up.