Fortis sets sights on Salford to deliver 2,000 properties
With a series of high-profile apartment projects under way across the city, Fortis Developments is eyeing more sites in Salford as it looks to deliver a pipeline of nearly 2,000 new homes.
The developer is already on site at a number of high-profile developments; these include Adelphi Wharf and Fortis Quay, where construction of a 27-storey tower is due to start this week.
Adelphi Wharf, being built on a plot purchased from a bank around four years ago, is set to complete on a phased basis with the first finishing in the coming months. Phases two and three are due to complete next year.
Phase one features 206 units, while the second includes 163 apartments and the third includes 224 properties, while all three will be linked via a riverside walkway, paid for by the developer in a multi-million-pound contribution. On a visit with Place North West at the development, Fortis director Gareth Morgan outlined the developer’s ambitions for other sites in its pipeline.
Other projects include the £70m Bridgewater Wharf, where demolition is due to begin this week. A two-year build programme will follow with the 376-home development on Ordsall Lane due to complete in 2020.
“Around Ordsall is an important gateway site to link the city centre to Salford Quays; land is relatively cheap at the moment but it’ll be a domino effect once more developments get under way,” said Morgan.
Fortis had bought sites “with affordability in mind” and is aiming for many of its properties to be on sale for under £200,000 or with rents under £1000 per month, added Morgan. These homes are targeted typically at young professionals and for co-living, rather than at the student market.
While possible overcapacity and pressure from the increasing number of private-rented developments have been raised by a number of developers in central Manchester, Morgan said Fortis would look to continue its push into the Salford market to deliver more homes across the city.
“PRS has changed the structure of a deal – it’s a different animal to what we do,” he said. The long-term interest from the likes of pension funds and institutional backers has driven up values and the cost of sites.
“Two-and-a-half years ago you were looking at £250/sq ft for residential in Salford, now it’s more like £280/sq ft. The most expensive we’ve seen in Manchester is around £550/sq ft, while places like the Green Quarter tend to be £420/sq ft.
“We’re not worried about overcapacity; there’s still a huge amount of demand and the big PRS stuff in Manchester is a different product to what we’re looking to deliver.”
Fortis’ projects are delivered by its in-house construction arm, Beaumont Morgan, an approach the developer is looking to maintain as it continues to build out its 2,000-home pipeline.
“Development risk is the biggest risk to any job – disputes, supply, and pricing can make schemes unviable,” said Morgan.
“Having our own contractor eliminates that, and using the group we can acquire sites, design projects, build them out, sell them, and manage them.”
The developer is also looking at a number of further sites across Salford, with the company’s preference to buy sites via equity without planning to bring forward residential-led projects.
The company was set up by Morgan and fellow directors Kieran Moore and Darren McLellan in 2012. Moore has around 15 years’ experience in construction and property having previously worked for Pell Frischmann, Mott MacDonald, and Arup.
A number of sites around Adelphi Wharf would likely be coming forward for redevelopment as part of the University of Salford’s £800m masterplan for the area, and Morgan said Fortis would likely look at these as they came available.
Salford Quays also continues to be an area of interest to Fortis; the company is already delivering Fortis Quay, a 679-unit development featuring a mix of new-build and office-to-residential conversion.
There could also be a fourth phase at Adelphi Wharf, with the developer looking at a site adjacent to the Old Pint Pot pub which could “round off” the project, said Morgan, along with completing a riverside walkway running the length of the Irwell through to the pub.
The company is also developing a site in Manchester’s Green Quarter; this is being built on behalf of London-based Delph Property Group and is due to complete by the end of this year. Morgan said more sites in the city and elsewhere in Greater Manchester could be of interest but the developer’s primary focus remains Salford.