The University of Manchester has formally started the race for the £2bn innovation district on the site of its North Campus as details of the first big names bidding for the development begin to emerge.
Announced at the MIPIM property conference in Cannes, ID Manchester will include 3.5m sq ft of mixed-use space including large areas of public realm. The focus will be on attracting science, research, development, cultural, and tech companies, along with some residential development.
With the issue of tender documents, the race for the coveted partnership is now formally under way, with six companies expected to be shortlisted.
However, Place North West understands a number of partners are already exploring throwing their hat into the ring, including Bruntwood, BCEGI, and Patrizia. A number of bidders’ days have already been held, drumming up strong interest in the site.
The University is searching for an investment and development partner for the site, which will be in a joint venture.
The University will contribute by providing long leasehold transfers on a plot-by-plot basis, with the partner providing cash equity, business and development management. The University said it would hold “no less than 35%” equity stake in any joint venture.
Any JV will look to establish a special-purpose vehicle to bring forward development, again on a plot-by-plot basis, but the University said its preference was for the site to be “seen holistically and not be seen as a plot-by-plot investment by bidders”.
Once a partner is chosen in autumn 2020, the JV will draw up a fresh masterplan for the site, secure planning, carry out all site-wide infrastructure works, build the site out, attract tenants, and hold the site as a long-term investment asset once it completes. This process is expected to take 15 years.
The overall plan for the site will depend on the approach of the joint venture partner; retention of listed buildings, including the Sackville Building, forms part of the University’s plan, although the future of the brutalist and modernist buildings on the campus is less certain, with senior University figures giving no assurances that these would be retained.
The 650,000 sq ft Sackville Building will be repurposed as part of any proposed masterplan.
Sheppard Robson, Arup, and Faithful+Gould have so far supported the University and its advisor CBRE to develop the vision for ID Manchester, based on the principles of the existing SRF for the site, drawn up by Bennetts Associates. This will be refreshed once a JV partner is chosen.
The first developments at the site will likely begin in 2022 once the University decants from North Campus into the £330m MECD, which is currently under construction, although timescales for ID Manchester remain fluid. Some buildings within North Campus, particularly at its south end, will remain occupied.
The University will also continue to occupy the £60m Masdar Building, home to the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre, with the remaining 18 acres of land around this part of the campus also made available for development.