The month in property | February
Argy bargy at the airport
Intrigue as development manager Argent departs from Airport City. It’s one of those situations where everybody’s saying it’s amicable, without being totally convincing. The nub is in managing partner David Partridge’s quote to Place North West “the airport are pretty keen to build up their own team and that frankly doesn’t leave us in a principal role any more”. This change may free up resource at Argent, and many reckon them favourites to land Manchester’s £550m Mayfield, which could be the Kings Cross of the North. Argent is on a longlist of six with Ask, Muse, Goodman, U&I and Urban & Civic. Some called Argent’s Piccadilly gig a “consolation prize” compared to Spinningfields; Mayfield would be significantly more than that.
Stay another day
How many more hotel rooms can Liverpool manage? No sooner had the Pullman opened at the Arena than contracts were exchanged between long-term owner Castlewood and Starwood Capital to turn that stately old pile Martins Bank into a £50m, 227-bedroom five-star hotel. Signature Living, the brains behind 30 James Street and the Shankly Hotel, is to bring a hotel to 60 Old Hall Street, while Elliott Group is bringing a 116-bedroom hotel to Wolstenholme Square. A veritable whirlwind. Stags, hens and conference delegates rejoice.
MIPIM – more than a numbers game?
Roll up, roll up for everybody’s favourite seaside show – it’s MIPIM time again! Manchester, as usual, has announced a whopping partnership with 99 organisations involved. Everyone DOES understand that being an associate doesn’t mean they get to sit next to Howard at the big dinner, right? Liverpool’s on a very respectable, and more “exclusive” 36, while of the competition, Birmingham is on 38 at the moment, and the Sheffield City Region 13. Leeds aren’t saying yet. Whoever takes whatever, we’re sure it will be “record-breaking,” because these things always are.
All part of a masterplan
Stockport Council released whizzy images of a station masterplan, including a new glass walkway, booking halls on each side and potentially, a Metrolink hub. Muse is well underway delivering a gateway project worthy of the name, on a site Norwich-based, HBOS-backed Targetfollow amazingly failed to deliver. The station is “underdeveloped,” i.e. crying out for more ways to fleece all those early-morning suits off for a day in London. No word yet on whether Platform 0, centrepiece of the last tart-up, will remain so named.
Lost in the supermarket
The cream of Manchester’s office agency sadly won’t be dusting off the blueprints for a beachfront house in the Maldives on Moneysupermarket’s account. The Welsh-based comparison site started out seeking a new base of 80,000 sq ft in Liverpool or Manchester, which then became 20,000 sq ft to 30,000 sq ft in Manchester. It’s now after just 6,000 sq ft to 8,000 sq ft. GL Hearn is advising Moneysupermarket, an instruction that probably provoked some jealousy, at first.
Chalk up another one in the Planning Applications Approved to Nobody’s Total Surprise (PAANTS) column. The redevelopment of the 400-acre Alderley Park by Manchester Science Partnerships has been given the green light by Cheshire East Council, holder of a 10% stake in the former Astrazeneca site. The first refurbished office to come to market will be the 100,000 sq ft building now called Parklands, a bravely Orbit-like name for something so deep in the heart of Emerson Group country. Next on the PAANTS list will surely be Manchester approving the £1bn extension of the airport it co-owns.