Rylands AM Alpha p.BancroftButler

Plans for the overhaul were approved more than three years ago. Credit: via Real Estate Marketing Media

DOMIS to pick up stalled Rylands Building conversion

The contractor is poised to step in and deliver the long-awaited redevelopment of the former Debenhams store on Manchester’s Market Street, replacing Russell WBHO.

German investor AM Alpha, which owns the grade two-listed Rylands building, has agreed a deal with DOMIS Construction to replace Russell WBHO on the retail-to-office job, according to sources familiar with the project.

Take a look inside the long-vacant building

Place North West understands that Russell WBHO and AM Alpha could not agree on a price for the project, prompting the split. 

Stephan Schmid, senior vice president at AM Alpha, would not confirm DOMIS’ appointment when approached by Place but said there would be “some changes to the build process”. 

He said conversations around the appointment of a contractor are still “ongoing” and that the investor “remains committed to ensuring the right contractor is appointed to bring our vision for Rylands to life.” 

“The Rylands development is a vast and ambitious scheme that, upon completion, will set the highest of standards for mixed-use schemes in Manchester,” Schmid said. 

“Bringing such a pioneering project to fruition takes time. Naturally, you will also see some changes during the build process. We work with many fantastic contractors, and we’re confident the Rylands project will be completed to exceptional standards.”

DOMIS is one of the region’s most active developers and will add the conversion of the building into 300,000 sq ft of offices to its current list of projects.

Others include a host of schemes for sister company Salboy and Fusion’s 28-storey student tower.

The Rylands redevelopment was first announced in the summer of 2020 and plans were approved early the following year.

However, getting the project off the ground has proved difficult. AM Alpha toyed with disposing of the building in 2022 before deciding to retain it and crack on with the approved refurbishment.

Designed by Jeffrey Bell Architects, the scheme proposes the comprehensive refurbishment of the former department store. The upper floors will be converted into workspace, while the ground floor will comprise a shopping arcade.

A four-storey rooftop extension will provide an additional 40,000 sq ft of offices.

In 2023, after the appointment of Russell WBHO as main contractor, the landlord received a telling off from Manchester councillor Pat Karney who branded the site “scruffy” and urged AM Alpha to take action.

Today, with DOMIS poised to pick the project up, the building is closed off with hoardings and some internal strip out work has been completed.

DOMIS and Russell WBHO have been contacted for comment.

Your Comments

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They need to get on with this, the delay is beyond a joke. Also the site needs more than just ground floor retail, at a minimum the basement, ground and floor 1 should be retail. If the German owners can get out of the office and look at the site it’s obvious that the 3 stories of retail in the old Lewis’s department store directly across the road are rammed seven days a week. It would be very easy to amend the planning application to do this.

By Dr B

This needs more retail… It’s an ideal location

By Cheggers

It would be better if they moved some stores from the Arndale to here.

By Anonymous

Someone please sort out the hoarding. It’s an utter disgrace. Stop fannying about and buy some paint.

By BAK

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