The developer, formerly Henry Boot Developments, has acquired the 39,000 sq ft building, built in 2001, from education provider LTE Group for an undisclosed sum and plans to demolish it and deliver an office scheme that would “rip up the rulebook”.
The building on Quay Street is occupied by the Manchester College, part of LTE Group, and the college will remain there for the next two years while HBD draws up its redevelopment plans.
Adam Brady, executive director of HBD, said: “The site has amazing development potential and offers us the chance to do something completely different for Manchester.
“We have the chance to rip up the rulebook on how an office building should look, behave and function. This will be a completely new way of working.”
LTE Group put St John’s Centre up for sale alongside the 97,000 sq ft Shena Simon campus just off Chorlton Street, as part of a wider estates rationalisation that began in 2016.
HBD’s acquisition has been in the works since before the Covid-19 lockdown and the developer will spend the next 12 months formulating a vision for the scheme in light of changing trends and occupier demand, according to director Dean Thompson.
The group’s plans include the creation of a 290,000 sq ft campus at the site of the former Boddingtons Brewery in Manchester, which Willmott Dixon is to build.
The St John’s Centre building was the first to be built at developer Allied London’s Spinningfields office and leisure scheme and completed in 2001.
The Manchester College took up residence there having relocated from a nearby campus next to the River Irwell, which was eventually redeveloped to create the Left Bank apartments.
Agency CBRE advised HBD, and Cushman & Wakefield as agent and Mills & Reeve as lawyer advised LTE Group.
Thompson, director and head of region at HBD, said: “HBD has invested heavily in [Manchester] in recent years and will continue to do so. We benefit from a strong financial position, with the cash to invest in the right opportunities.”