Work will start in earnest next week on The Factory, described as the “most aspirational, ambitious cultural project in the UK for 50 years,” while a deal could be close with media production giant Endemol Shine to occupy the ABC Buildings.
Mike Ingall, chief executive of Allied London, spoke last night at an event to launch the first phase of Enterprise City, “a cluster of modern industries” in the St John’s district, close to the Spinningfields business area delivered by the developer over 20 years.
While a sod-cutting ceremony was held last year with Laing O’Rourke to mark the start of activity on The Factory site, there has been little momentum since. However, Ingall’s speech confirmed that from next week the build would be under way, set for a scheduled 2021 completion.
Ingall also outlined how the “inventory” of Enterprise City has been advanced. He launched EC in April last year and has since developed his thinking on the concept as circumstances changed. ABC, the former Astley & Byrom office buildings fronting Quay Street, were acquired and brought into the fold; while hiring out studio space at the former Granada complex has boomed.
Last night’s event ostensibly was about launching the first phase of development, in the shape of the Bonded Warehouse and ABC, of which new visuals were revealed, and the official launch of Allied’s operating company All Studios. ABC has been stripped back to bring out the best of its 1960s style, Ingall said, and will be media-focused, while the Bonded Warehouse will be aimed at tech-linked businesses.
Although Ingall went no further than saying that he hopes to announce a pre-let deal at ABC with a “large UK content provider”, it is understood that Dutch-headquartered global player Endemol, a speaker on one of the panels on stage last night, is in the frame.
All Work & Social, Allied’s co-working arm, is to operate The Department, which will take up the third floor of the Bonded Warehouse. Allied is working with Manchester City Council on a project that has secured £2m in Government funding, which will be used to support 200 free desks for start-ups.
Ingall said of Bonded Warehouse’s co-working space: “If WeWork is the institutional form of co-working, we want to be the type that appeals to those people that want to be in a place that is steeped in Manchester’s culture.”
Ingall said that the studio space already operating at the four former Granada studios are in huge demand, and that 12 further facilities will be added to the mix to take the complex’s offer to 16 studios. He said that programmes made for Netflix, Amazon, ITV and BBC have all used the studios in the last 12 months.
Ingall said the formula can work elsewhere too: “The Space Project and Sharp Project have facilities, but not in the city centre. The city centre used to have studios, and they were a huge catalyst. We’re bringing it back, and we’re not only doing it here, but can take the brand to other cities. We’re making this a key location for content in the UK.” He described the project as a “rebirth” of media production in the city centre.
All Studios already operates 100,000 sq ft of TV and film studio space, with seven separate indoor stages and a flexible outdoor set.
Post-production business The Farm could also be in line to take space. It was trailed in December 2017 that the business was looking to take 25,000 sq ft in central Manchester, and had hired Paul Austin from dock10 at MediaCity, who also spoke on stage last night, to run the operation.
Ingall suggested last night that a deal is also close at the 350,000 sq ft Manchester Goods Yard, with further details to follow soon.
Endemol was approached for comment.