Willmott Dixon will start on Rochdale’s long-awaited £80m Riverside retail and leisure development next month after being appointed as main contractor by developer Genr8.
Work on the project, which will add around 200,000 sq ft of restaurant, cafe, leisure, and retail space to Rochdale’s town centre, is now due to get under way on 26 February.
Contracts for the project’s works package, including cladding, groundwork, steelwork, and roofing are due to be awarded in the coming months, and Willmott Dixon is estimating a spend of £22m with subcontractors across Greater Manchester.
Wates was rumoured to be lined up as main contractor last summer, but a deal was never agreed.
The announcement of a main contractor follows a funding agreement last week, with the developers and the council signing off an £80m deal with backer M&G.
M&G has agreed a 250-year lease on the site and will grant a 35-year sublease back to the council on completion of the scheme, which is now around 60% let.
Tenants include Boots, River Island, and JD Sports, which have collectively taken around 32,000 sq ft. Reel will operate the cinema, and other pre-lets include Next and Marks & Spencer.
Last year, M&S announced it would not be relocating its store to Rochdale Riverside, but council chief executive Steve Rumbelow told Place North West it was “clear there is a cast iron lease in place” and that he expected M&S “to do the right thing and stick to it”.
“We try to do business properly and fairly, and we expect our partners to the same.”
Talks are ongoing to secure brands for the six restaurant units at the site. Plans were granted for the scheme, designed by TP Bennett Architects, in April last year. A second phase, including up to 45,000 sq ft of office space, around 100 homes, a 120-bed hotel, and four additional retail units, has yet to be submitted to planners.
Cllr Allen Brett, leader of Rochdale Council, said: “It’s full steam ahead for Rochdale Riverside and I know our residents will welcome us reaching yet another important milestone in our flagship regeneration project. This is the final part of Rochdale town centre’s £250m regeneration package, which has transformed this area in recent years.”
Anthony Dillon, managing director of Willmott Dixon in the North West, said: “As a locally based company, we are delighted to have been appointed for this flagship project, which will be a fantastic new addition for the town as well as a catalyst to encourage new inward investment.
“We’ll also support the local economy by using businesses from the area whenever possible during the build programme; we want to leave a lasting legacy that all can be proud of.”
Lambert Smith Hampton represented the council on the Rochdale Riverside project, providing development and investment advice. Cheetham & Mortimer and JLL are representing Genr8 and Kajima.