Work is underway to transform the derelict Debenhams store in Manchester city centre

The building will transform into a huge mixed-use retail, office and leisure space.

By Emma Davidson | Last updated 16 November 2022

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The company behind the huge redevelopment of the former Debenhams in Manchester city centre has revealed a major update on the project. 

The iconic Rylands building, which sits on the corner of Market Street and High Street has been empty since December 2021, when the department store chain entered administration.

It was then later bought by Manchester-based fashion forerunners, Boohoo, but all of the stores were permanently closed. 

Now, it has been revealed by global real-estate investment firm AM alpha that confirmed work to redevelop the building into a huge, mixed-use space comprising offices, retail, leisure and more will start early next year. 

The upper floors of the building will be transformed into an office space, while the ground floor will house a retail arcade. A four-storey extension will also be added. 

Enabling works have already begun on the building, with main works to follow in 2023 with a view for completion in early 2025.

The iconic space was originally built back in 1932 for the local textiles manufacturer Rylands and Sons. It had been a department store since the early 50s before the closure of Debenhams in 2020, which came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to the M.E.N, Stephan Schmid, senior vice president at AM alpha, said: “Working with listed buildings is always a great privilege. We are proud to be able to give this historic Manchester landmark a new future and restore Rylands to its former glory in a very sustainable way. In this way, we are also helping to achieve Greater Manchester’s 2038 carbon neutrality target.”

Construction company Russell WBHO has also been recruited as a construction partner in the project, alongside companies OBI and Barker Proudlove who will act as letting agents. 

Stephen Levrant Heritage Architecture is also working as the Heritage Consultant on the project. The team will carry out a Historic Building appraisal and Heritage Statement (incorporating physical and visual impact assessments) of the Grade II listed building.