Bruntwood enters hotel tower race with Riverside

Paul Unger

Bruntwood is planning a five-star hotel and residential tower of up to 30 storeys next to the River Irwell between Manchester city centre and Salford.

The hotel would sit between the Lowry Hotel on one side and a speculative 100,000 sq ft office building also to be developed by Bruntwood on the other. The development would cover part of a surface car park and the site of the current Leach Rhodes Walker Architects office which would be demolished.

Leach Rhodes Walker has been retained by Bruntwood to design the tower and masterplan the whole site; the practice will relocate within the Bruntwood estate if the plans come to fruition.

 Peter CrowtherPeter Crowther, development director of Bruntwood, said: "We are in discussions with a hotel group about bringing a five-star hotel to the city. Discussions are also ongoing with Salford's planners and they seem comfortable with the tower idea so far."

The tower elements would be configured equally with the lower half hotel and residential above, in the same way as Beetham's Hilton tower on Deansgate.

Allied London is also planning a hotel/residential high-rise on the edge of Spinningfields with its The Manchester scheme.

Work is not expected to start on site for the Bruntwood tower until the first quarter of 2009 at the earliest. The tower may be sold on to an investor, as it would not fit neatly with Bruntwood's office-dominated portfolio.

Bruntwood's masterplan will prepare for a possible redevelopment of the office element of Riverside, set back from the river, which totals 176,000 sq ft including some retail. Of the remaining four office buildings, assuming demolition of the Leach Rhodes Walker building, two are occupied by the Benefits Agency and two are multi-let.

The first Benefits Agency block becomes vacant in May when the agency consolidates and Bruntwood seems likely to refurbish rather than build anew although options depend on market demand.

The second Benefits Agency building will be up for review in five years' time. Leases in the two multi-let buildings expire during 2010 and 2011, freeing them up for possible redevelopment.

Crowther added: "We will be careful to make sure that we don't force tenants, guests or residents through a building site for the next 15 years. Each building will be assessed sequentially and it may be that we don't do any new-build or that all of the offices are replaced with new buildings."

Talks with planners suggest heights of 10 to 15 storeys for the offices, which could hold up to 1m sq ft of new stock if all built.

Quoting rents for existing Riverside office space are £16.50/sq ft. Lettings agents are King Sturge and Lambert Smith Hampton. No agents have been appointed on the hotel.

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