Plot 9 First Street

Ask reveals third iteration of next First Street office

Jessica Middleton-Pugh

Ask Real Estate has put in plans for a 400,000 sq ft building including 270,000 sq ft of offices on a site on the edge of Manchester’s First Street, increasing the size of commercial space set to be brought to market, and no longer including a Premier Inn hotel.

The plot gained planning consent in December 2018 for a 17-storey building, with 17,000 sq ft floorplates totalling 160,000 sq ft of offices, plus a 200-bedroom hotel on the upper floors.

In July 2019, Ask and Premier Inn owner Whitbread then revealed plans to create a larger building, delivering 30,000 sq ft floorplates across 10 storeys, plus the Premier Inn on the upper three floors.

At the time, First Street was in the race to secure BT’s requirement for a 200,000 sq ft head office, and the creation of larger floorplates was understood to be part of Ask’s bid to win the telecommunications giant. BT ultimately ended up choosing English Cities Fund’s New Bailey instead of First Street.

The latest proposal is made up of 270,500 sq ft of offices, with 11,700 sq ft ground floor retail, in a 400,000 sq ft building.

The floorplates are set to reach up to 30,000 sq ft. The building also includes a large basement with cycle store, smaller office studio spaces, reception and shared workspaces for tenants, as well as a terrace and pavilion. The architect is Jon Matthews.

Hotel uses are no longer included in the plans. Whitbread was set to relocate its Premier Inn into the block, freeing up its site nearby on Medlock Street, however is now thought to be staying on the site.

Jamie Hills of Ask said: “The building itself has been designed as a next generation office environment with areas such as co working space, winter gardens, roof terrace, activity studio space and a large open basement cycle store hub which will be well designed and one of the biggest in Manchester allowing for the storage of 270 cycles, 270 lockers, 27 showers, 2 drying rooms, and cycle maintenance facilities. Cyclist will also enter the building via their own dedicated cycle lane.”

Bam was revealed as the contractor for the office and hotel in 2018, and is still lined up to build the latest scheme. While there are yet to be any occupiers announced for the building, a pre-let is not necessarily required in order to get construction of the office under way, due to Ask Real Estate’s funding power through its majority owner the Richardson family.

Market rumours are already circulating regarding potential occupiers, including Auto Trader Group, which is understood to be looking at a 90,000 sq ft requirement. Auto Trader occupies around 60,000 sq ft nearby in No1 First Street, and was brought into the building by Ask in the early years of the creation of the First Street district. Ask went on to sell the block to Patrizia, and it was then sold on to Standard Life.

Auto Trader’s fellow occupier within No1 First Street, engineering company Jacobs, could also be a candidate to relocate. Jacobs occupies around 40,000 sq ft in No1 First Street. Both Jacobs and Auto Trader have lease renewals scheduled for around 2023.

In the wider office market, earlier this month investment company Goldman Sachs launched its search for a 60,000 sq ft office, to be based either in Manchester or Birmingham.

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Premier Inn will still move however they are looking for an alternate site.

By Anon

Does that mean the nasty Premier Inn is staying, the one with bars on the windows?

By Dan

the only thing still standing after the apocalypse will be that Premier Inn

By Huey

Might just be the visuals but these have a look of a cladded multi-story carpark. Not the prettiest.

By EggMan

We’ve won the Lotto spread the news

By Anonymous

The design is horrific!

By Anonymous

Design looks good, but will it ever get built?

By ALL

The current Premier Inn building just looks awful, it’ll be a blight on the area if it stays the way it is.

By Mike

I’m sure some people will claim to like it, modernists and those weird people who claim to like UMIST.

By Floyd

I think the design is quite good although I’d be surprised if they built it without a pre-let, Richardsons aren’t that daft are they?

By Derek

@floyd, parts of UMIST are spectacular. Frankly if the designs of some of those buildings were being proposed today, I’m thinking Renold, Barnes Wallis and Staff House in particular, together with all that lovely landscaping, and rendered in shiny CGI visuals, many people would be wetting themselves over it and saying that this is just the sort of modern, distinctive, characterful and people-centric sort of development Manchester City centre is crying out for. Too many people seem not to be able to see beyond the fact that these rather cool buildings are not new and that the concrete reminds them of social housing. Silly really.

By Modernismist