Billed as “one of most ambitious arts spaces in the world”, the 143,000 sq ft venue requires additional cash to complete, prompting Manchester City Council to hike the budget to £186m due to the “significant impacts of the coronavirus challenge”.
The Factory’s estimated completion date was 2019 when the concept was first announced in 2014. But the council said it now expects the project to complete in December 2022 due to disruption to the construction timeframe.
“As with all construction projects, Covid-19 has had a profound impact on the cost and programme. This is the biggest single reason for the budget increase,” the council said in a statement on Monday.
The council cannot afford to increase its own contribution to the scheme, which stands at around £50m, so the additional £45m will instead be sought from the Government and through fundraising by The Factory Trust, the project’s fundraising vehicle.
Around a quarter (£10m) of the requisite £45m has been earmarked as contingency funding to “reflect the levels of uncertainty across the construction industry” and ultimately may not be required, the council added.
Designed by design studio Office for Metropolitan Architecture, founded by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, The Factory is being built by contractor Laing O’Rourke and has already benefitted from a £78m Government grant and a further £7m of National Lottery funding. In 2018, the city council earmarked a further £20m for the project as costs began to escalate.
At the time, demolition and preparatory works had commenced to build what is intended to be one of the largest purpose-built cultural buildings in the world. Once complete, the council says, The Factory will deliver a £1.1bn boost to Manchester’s economy over a decade, attracting up to 850,000 visitors a year and creating 1,500 jobs.
The venue will provide a permanent home for Manchester International Festival. It is a key part of the St John’s mixed-use neighbourhood, which is largely being brought forward by developer Allied London under its Enterprise City brand.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Delivering something asgame-changing as The Factory is always going to involve some unforeseen challenges, and the global Covid-19 pandemic is pretty monumental.
“The serious financial consequences of the crisis mean the council is not in a position to commit further funding to this project but, as is the Manchester way, we will be resourceful and find other ways to ensure we create something special.
“This is a project that will have enormous benefits for the city and its people. It’s precisely because of these difficult times that it is more important than ever that we deliver it.”