Manchester City Council is set to approve the refurbishment of Gateway House into a 182-suite aparthotel, despite the building being earmarked for demolition if HS2 comes to the city.
The 140,000 sq ft building in Piccadilly Station approach was bought from Realty Estates in June for £26m by LaSalle Investment Management on behalf of the HSBC Pension Fund.
In November Maddox & Associates submitted a planning application to convert the vacant offices into an aparthotel to be operated by StayCity.
A framework published by Manchester City Council in September 2013 suggested the Gateway House could be demolished to allow for the expansion of Piccadilly railway station to include an HS2 terminal. The draft blueprint for the site was agreed by councillors in January 2014, with the future of the building still in doubt if HS2 is delivered.
The planning application justified HSBC's decision to apply to refurbish the building despite the possible demolition and said "the plans are some way off delivery at this stage and it is also not clear whether HS2 will go ahead, particularly if there is a change in Government at the next election".
Council planning officers recommended the scheme for approval in a report ahead of a committee meeting on 22 January, but confirmed that "the council's current preference for the location of the new HS2 station… involves the demolition of Gateway House". However, the report acknowledged that "the current condition of Gateway House gives a poor impression at one of the major gateways into the regional centre" and "the proposed development could contribute to the council's growth objectives".
The building currently functions mainly as a retail parade on the way to the train station, with 16 retail units at ground level.
The application also requested changes of use for the retail units to accommodate a mix of restaurants, a takeaway, offices and a bar.
Realty Estates had previously gained planning permission to convert the block into a hotel in 2011, and agreed a deal with London-based Max Serviced Apartments in 2012 to create a 182-bed apart-hotel but the scheme stalled.