Square Gardens drone, Downing, p Influential

The scheme is billed as the largest co-living development in the UK. Credit: via Influential

Downing’s £400m Manchester co-living cluster tops out 

The contractor/developer has reached the 45-storey mark on Acer Tower, the highest point of its 1,300-home Square Gardens scheme at First Street. 

Manchester City Council Leader Cllr Bev Craig attended a ceremony to celebrate the topping out of Downing’s £400m Manchester neighbourhood. 

“Square Gardens will enhance the growing First Street district and add to its vibrancy,” Craig said. 

“We have an ambitious housing strategy to deliver 36,000 new homes in Manchester by 2032 and this development will play a significant part.”   

Designed by Simpson Haugh, the scheme comprises three co-living blocks, including a 45-storey tower, and is being funded via a £227m, four-year facility from a newly-formed partnership between Precede Capital and QuadReal Property Group, supported by Japanese bank Nomura. 

A gym, wellness centre, and co-working spaces will be delivered, plus social spaces including lounges, a cinema room, and a private dining area, as well as a large private landscaped garden. 

Downing projects director, George Tyson, said: “This is a significant milestone and a fantastic opportunity to see Square Gardens really starting to take shape.  

“Square Gardens has been designed to bring people together to connect and share experiences. Our aim is to provide high quality, purpose-built living spaces, offering flexible and hassle-free city centre living at inclusive prices.”  

As well as being billed as the largest co-living development in the UK, Downing claims Square Gardens is its “strongest performing project to date in terms of environmental impact and sustainability”. 

The development also features a fourth, 28-storey block that will provide 555 student beds instead of the 322 co-living units originally proposed under plans tweaked in October.   

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Wonderful to see all this investment in Manchester, long may it continue.

By Peter Chapman

They’re still pouring concrete on the core today so I don’t think it’s topped out quite yet…but I suppose it had to work around Bev’s diary. It’s also a pretty big statement for the leader of a Labour council to herald a development that for all intents and purposes, circumvents the minimum space requirements.

By Mancunian

Wow. Liverpool is so far behind it’s not even funny. And Leeds can only dream.

Manchester sure does feel like an international city slowly climbing up the tier status.

By ZiffZaff

Where will all these thousands of people do their shopping?

By Retail strategy watch

What is co-living and how does it work

By Phil

This is a nice height for a city like Liverpool but the bar has been raised in Manchester so would have liked to have seen 60 storeys here

By Giant Skyscraper Fan

Well Retail strategy watch, where do you do yours? Either online or you go to the shops, I mean they are in the city centre, it’s not difficult.

By Anonymous

The problem is, I don’t see the number of commercial units increasing in proportion with the thousands upon thousands of new housing units being built in the city centre. Where do the planners expect these people to go to shop, socialise, access key services? First Street is an office park and practically devoid of shops.

By Retail strategy watch

Retail Strategy Watch – Very interested to hear your thoughts on retail strategy. Looks to me like there is loads of retail capacity, but limited demand. Lots more people, but because we shop differently, seemingly limited need for additional bricks and mortar retail. Leisure is certainly growing, which is why we are seeing some of the excess retail space being absorbed by leisure uses.

By Local Interest

Local interest, there seems to be some magical thinking going on that occupants of these flats will be content to remain couped up in their ‘units’ and order everything they need via an app. That’s not how human beings function so it would be nice to see an overarching city centre retail and leisure strategy emerge from the council and a bit more challenge back when developers seek to remove ground floor commercial units from consented developments as I believe they they have at First Street.

By Retail strategy watch

A final thought, I don’t buy the notion that there is insufficient demand. You only have to look at places like Brighton to see a city that’s been virtually unaffected by change in shopping habits and high business rates. Its retail streets are teeming with people all year round and in some sectors, it retains a better range and diversity of shops than Manchester. Which goes to show, if you create an uplifting environment conducive to pedestrians and a suitable mix of different sized units, you can create something of real value.

By Retail strategy watch

Deansgate Square has thousands of residents but the retail units there have really struggled, not every development should have retail, the city has enough.

By Gilly

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