Robert Wolstenholme, the developer behind the revamp of Manchester’s Great Northern Warehouse, has told Place North West his team is “thinking through options” for the next phase, with possible next steps ranging from leaving the existing cinema as it is, to replacing it with three towers.
Wolstenholme’s Trilogy Real Estate and its partner Peterson secured planning permission for the first two phases of £300m project earlier this month, which includes a new street, a conversion of the warehouse into residential space, and a redesigned public realm at the site’s Peter Street frontage.
This will deliver 142 apartments over 209,000 sq ft; 22,000 sq ft of food and beverage space; a 17,000 sq ft gym; and 3,000 sq ft of retail.
Trilogy and Peterson own the entire site, which amounts to 6.5 acres, and is considering the future of the new-build extension of the listed warehouse. This currently houses the Odeon cinema.
“We are thinking through our options for that part of the site,” Wolstenholme told Place North West.
“Three towers stepped in height is one option and there are other new-build options we are looking at; another option is to do nothing, as the site is 100% income producing. But the city would like to see us it take it away.
“A lot of people don’t understand the size of the site; we own 6.5 acres of the city and could build 1m sq ft if we wanted to.”
Wolstenholme said he was hopeful of starting the first phase of the project, which includes demolition of the Dwell unit on the corner of Peter Street and Deansgate and public realm works, and added this phase would likely be awarded to a smaller, local contractor.
These works will help to open up a new pedestrianised street, dubbed Dean Street, which will be home to retail, restaurant, and café space.
He added the developer had not yet started the process of looking for occupiers for this part of the project, but would be looking to attract smaller independents to the new street.
“We’ve worked with Nick Johnson who was behind Altrincham Market to get an idea of what we want to do with that space, and we’ve decided the Great Northern should be home to the best of the ‘great North’ – we don’t want ubiquitous brands,” he said.
Following phase one, the second phase covers the warehouse, which will be overhauled to house 130 apartments, a gym, food and beverage, and retail.
Current occupiers at ground floor level of the main warehouse, including All Star Lanes and Home Sweet Home, will all be retained as part of the plans. Wolstenholme said the owners of Home Sweet Home and Almost Famous, both on the building’s ground floor, were considering merging the two units into one.
The existing casino at the warehouse’s first floor will also be retained, with the casino likely to undergo a full refurbishment once work starts on site. Its entrance will move to the newly-created Dean Street, and discussions have taken place to extend its restaurant outwards so it can be accessed from the wider Great Northern, rather than just through the casino itself as at present.
Much of this work is dependent on agreements with current occupiers NCP and Odeon, and work is unlikely to start until “at least 18 months”, according to Wolstenholme. The developer is likely to shortlist at least three contractors for the scheme.
The cinema’s lease is not due to expire until 2021, but Wolstenholme said it would be “viable and sensible” to reach an agreement to get works underway before then.
SimpsonHaugh is the architect for the scheme. The professional team also includes Laing O’Rourke, which has prepared a construction method statement for the first two phases; Planit IE as landscape architect, Curtins as transport planner, WSP as building services engineer, Johnson Naylor as interior architect, Walker Sime as quantity surveyor, 2110 Consult as surveyor and project manager, and Deloitte as planner.
The site was acquired by Trilogy and Peterson in 2013, and the redevelopment is fully funded.