Schroders hunts for occupiers for City Tower units

The asset manager has been granted approval to change the use of ground floor retail units at the 30-storey City Tower in Manchester, to accommodate a wider variety of businesses. 

The change of use consent allows the units to be used by retailers, food and beverage outlets as currently, or by financial and professional services firms. 

Under the plans, Schroder Property Investment Management, which owns City Tower, will subdivide 39-41 Piccadilly Plaza to create three units of 3,200 sq ft, 1,000 sq ft and 600 sq ft respectively. 

The vacant space was previously split into two and home to both Nobles Amusements, which occupied around 4,000 sq ft, and takeaway TJ Hot Foods, which occupied 600 sq ft,

Schroders’ real estate consultancy, CBRE, said in planning documents: “Discussions have now progressed with a number of potential future occupiers; however, at the current time, no agreements have yet been signed.

“As such, this change of use is sought to provide as much flexibility as possible to enable alternative tenants to occupy the units as required.” 

As part of the scheme to subdivide the units, designed by architect Sheppard Robson, the units will be fitted with updated shopfronts. 

Schroders bought City Tower, in Manchester city centre, from developer Bruntwood for £132m in 2014. 

A spokesperson for Schroders said: “It is our long-term plan to continually enhance the offer at City Tower, to meet the changing needs of the workforce and improve the amenity that surrounds the building.  

“With more than 3,000 people working in City Tower from a cross-section of businesses, we want to ensure we are creating a sense of community and place, and believe the planning consent to change the use of these units will allow us to explore opportunities with a broad variety of potential occupiers.” 

In 2019, Nobles, which has since been renamed Admiral Amusements, relocated to former building society premises on the corner of Lever Street, the other side of Piccadilly Gardens.

Other occupiers operating from City Tower’s ground floor retail units include fast-food outlet Subway, coffee chain Starbucks, travel agency Flight Centre and retailers M&S Food, Lidl and Tesco Express, among others. 

Experts predict an increase in change-of-use applications as firms seek to increase the flexibility of their buildings to attract and retain tenants amid market uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

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