Property round-up: MCR Property; Far East Consortium; Salboy; MIOC; Aviva Investors; Skyline 2; Material Source Studio

Pentagon Business Centre
X The Business Desk

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MCR Property Group has acquired its second multi-let business complex in Scotland as it continues its drive to expand rapidly north of the border.

The Manchester property developer is investing £6m in the Pentagon Business Centre, in Glasgow, to create a modern, comfortable home for more than 100 businesses. MCR Property chose to retain all staff in place and created 10 additional job roles.

The historic six-storey building, at 36 Washington Street, overlooks the River Clyde and sits at the heart of Glasgow’s financial district.

It was constructed more than 120 years ago as a whisky bond, a type of bonded warehouse where the bottles were stored before duty was paid. MCR is modernising the building with high quality fittings, and positive results are already apparent with the building’s occupancy increasing by 18%.

The acquisition is part of MCR’s ambition to purchase more than 100 commercial and industrial properties over the next three years, including development sites. Investments will typically range from £1m to £10m, though higher valuations will be considered.

The Pentagon Business Centre offers 95,000 sq ft of flexible licence office space with prices starting at £15 per sq ft, including meeting rooms, an expanded coworking lounge and 14,000 sq ft of studio space for Glasgow’s creative industries. The Pentagon houses 138 office units, 10 studios, five meeting rooms, three breakout rooms and one large coworking lounge.

Tenants can adapt their spaces to the changing needs of their business. It also comes with its own 30,000 sq ft self storage facility attached. This will be known as Pentagon Self Storage, offering 424 storage units for business and private use.

Pentagon is just a 10 minute drive from the Merlin Business Centre at Hillington Park, the first multi-use business site purchased by MCR earlier this year. The development is ideally situated with phenomenal transport links. It sits just a few minutes’ walk from Glasgow Central and Anderston railway stations, and a moment’s walk from the banks of the River Clyde.

The surrounding area is being rapidly developed with new residential projects, which will draw thousands more workers into the immediate area.

The way workers use offices is currently in a state of flux due to the pandemic. It remains to be seen how things will change, but greater part time use of offices for many white collar workers seems all but a certainty. MCR expects this trend to drive greater demand for smaller, more flexible office spaces, both in city centres and at out-of-town locations.

Research by CBRE revealed recently that take up of Glasgow office space is up 94% in the second quarter compared with the same period last year, while Savills has reported 80% quarter-on-quarter growth.

MCR is already very active in Scotland and, in the past 24 months has completed Centrum, which houses 50,000 sq ft of refurbished industrial units in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, as well as Embankment West, a residential development of 165 apartments in Edinburgh.


Topping out at New Cross Central

Far East Consortium (FEC) has topped out at its New Cross Central development in Manchester, marking another milestone for FEC and Manchester City Council’s £4bn Victoria North regeneration project.

FEC’s in-house construction arm, DEX, has marked the highest point being reached on the 80-home development, which which will include a mix of one- and two-bed apartments as well as nine three-bed townhouses.

New Cross Central is at the heart of the up-and-coming New Cross neighborhood, one of seven neighbourhoods being brought forward as part of Victoria North, which will deliver up to 15,000 new homes while rejuvenating brownfield and under-utilised land over the next 15 years.  The topping out represents one of the first developments to do so within FEC and Manchester City Council’s masterplan for Victoria North, with sites in Red Bank and Collyhurst also under way.

Construction on the scheme, where 70% of homes have already been sold, is set to complete in autumn 2022.

Nick Whitehouse, delivery director at FEC, said: “The topping out of New Cross Central is an important milestone for us, not just as a focal point for the future New Cross neighbourhood, but one of the first developments within Victoria North to approach completion.

“There has been a significant amount of regeneration in New Cross and we feel that New Cross Central will positively contribute to the area and act as a catalyst to further development.”


The Castle Irwell site

Domis Construction has installed two tower cranes to deliver the next phases at Salboy’s Castle Irwell Urban Village in Salford.

All 157 properties in the first four phases of the development are now sold and the first residents have moved in just 12 months after construction first began.

The central three-acre village green and park are also open.

The cranes will be used to construct the next two courtyards of houses comprising 106 properties in total.

Salboy business development manager, Nick Russell, said: “The use of the cranes will dramatically reduce the number of vehicular movements across the site, not only making the build more efficient but increasing safety which is always the primary concern.

“The cranes are positioned at the centre of the next two courtyards which enables materials to be taken to the right place quickly, which will speed up build time.”

He added: “These latest phases are due to complete in summer 2023.”

Designed by Calderpeel Architects the new village of two-, three- and four-bedroom, contemporary homes is being developed on the site of the former Manchester Racecourse, edging the River Irwell and just a short commute from Manchester city centre.

The site’s original Turnstile Building has been restored and is currently being used as a marketing suite for the development.

Salboy head of marketing, Benjamin Ashcroft, said: “We are delighted with the response from buyers, who really appreciate the quality of the homes, the proximity to nature and the convenience of the location.

“Demand has been exceptional and I am pleased to say that the next properties will be released for sale mid-January.”



Six new leases have been signed at Manchester International Office Centre, MIOC, with all taking residence before the end of 2021.

The commercial complex near Manchester Airport has undergone refurbishment investment worth £400,000 in recent months with the new tenants finding its location, new ‘hotel’ feel and outside amenity key reasons for relocating.

New tenants, recruiter Matt Burton Associates, logistics firm Toll Global Forwarding, Specialist Recruitment Services, Estate Planning Solutions and Ecus Environmental Services are all on site and have taken more than 6,000 sq ft of accommodation in MIOC.

WTA Group, the global logistics business, has chosen to relocate its head office from London to Manchester, increasing its office space to more than 3,500 sq ft.

Liam MacCarthy, director at MIOC investment manager Till AM, said: “This last quarter at MIOC we’ve seen a steady flow of enquiries and increase in viewings. There’s been a lot going on, with the refurbishment and planning approval of a new 24,000 sq ft build pavilion on site – but welcoming these new tenants, with others currently discussing new leases with us, makes me feel increasing positive about the office market in 2022.”

Thomas Kuehn, managing director at WTA Group, said: “We’ve been planning a consolidation of our team for some time, in line with business need, and we selected Manchester International Office Centre as our new head office.

“We’ve actually closed a unit in Felixstowe and taken several functions out of our London office to create this new hub in Manchester.”

He added: “This has suited our business very well and means we can focus and grow here. The building is unique, within easy reach of the airport but also supports us in reaching our target of C0² neutral by 2025 for several reasons, clearly reducing our office footprint goes a long way, but the building has many electric vehicle charging points that is an additional important amenity for us.”

Situated at a prominent position at the junction of Styal Road on the A555, with easy connections to Manchester Airport, the M56, Metrolink and Heald Green train station, the building was designed by Cruickshank and Seaward in 1953 but has undergone a substantial refurbishment programme over recent years and has an abundance of outside space and parking that tenants find indispensable.


11 York Street

Aviva Investors has revealed its newly refurbished seven-storey office building at 11 York Street, Manchester, which comprises 79,000 sq ft of Grade A office space on the site formerly home to Oddfellows House.

Sitting within Manchester’s central business district, 11 York Street comprises office floor plates ranging from 10,200 sq ft and 11,700 sq ft.

The refurbishment of the building, undertaken in partnership with Kier, includes a private event terrace, two ground floor retail and leisure units of 5,300 sq ft each, along with 23 basement car parking spaces.

11 York Street is one of several buildings in Aviva Investors’ portfolio of properties in central Manchester, which includes 201 Deansgate, 55 Spring Gardens as well as investments into the city’s Enterprise City and Square Circle developments.

Paul Smith, Asset Manager for Aviva Investors said: “York Street is an important scheme within our Manchester portfolio and we are delighted to see it reach completion. The project offers a high class office space with unrivalled amenities in the prime location of a city we believe has all the attributes to thrive in the knowledge economy over the coming years and decades.

“We look forward to creating a vibrant destination for our occupier clients and the outstanding community management team we have in place will ensure this is fulfilled.”

11 York Street was designed by AHR Architects. OBI is acting agent for the scheme.

Andrew Cowell, from OBI, said: “11 York Street is perfectly located in Manchester’s prime city core. The ground floor meeting space, event space and breakout spaces showcases the level of amenity the building offers. On Level 8 there is further event space and a stunning roof terrace with fantastic views across the city.

“The workspace at 11 York Street is perfectly suited for modern business and is attracting significant interest and I am sure that over the coming weeks we will be announcing news of new occupiers.”

11 York Street has received the official platinum CyclingScore accreditation – the highest level of accreditation available – with 58 cycle storage spaces at basement level plus showers, lockers and drying room facilities for tenants and visitors.

The building has also been recognised with a Wired Score Platinum rating.

Kier Property purchased the entire freehold of this prime central Manchester scheme, from Aberdeen Asset Management in November 2016 and Aviva Investors agreed a forward funding deal to acquire the freehold interest in February 2018.


Skyline 2

Work has completed on the first phase of refurbishment at one of Manchester’s most iconic residential schemes.

Skyline 2 was one of the first build-to-rent schemes in the city and is the only one of its type with a swimming pool and gym on the upper floors.

The 19-storey block was acquired by L1 Property in November last year. Improvement work started in May and has been carried out by property management firm Resify, which specialises in transforming undervalued schemes.

Work to date has included the refurbishment of 30 apartments which will be managed by Resify on a flexible lettings basis. Working with Skyline’s main lettings management firm, Leaders, Resify has also carried out a full refit of five apartments, with the remaining 124 units to be refitted on a rolling basis as they become vacant. Resify will also carry out an extensive upgrade to the communal areas in early 2022.

Occupancy levels in the completed apartments now stand at more than 95% – up from 60% at the start of the year.

Built in 2008, Skyline 2 is a fully furnished apartment block on Goulden Street on the edge of the Northern Quarter and just 10 minutes’ walk from Manchester Victoria railway station.

Resify is led by Obi Williams, who has more than 10 years’ experience in the industry and previously ran property management company, ZO, in partnership with Premier League footballer Wilfried Zaha.

The company has developed a ‘360-degree’ approach to transforming undervalued schemes which includes cost effective makeovers, a flexible lettings policy, proactive management style and investment in technology. Since its launch in July 2020, it has undertaken repositioning and refurbishment projects in eight UK cities.

Obi Williams said: “Skyline 2 is an iconic building in a great location with fabulous views over the city. However, L1 Property recognised that the apartments would benefit from a makeover. The refurbishment has brought the buzz back to the building and, working in close collaboration with Leaders, has helped increase occupancy levels to almost full capacity.”

Obi added: “This project demonstrates the impact that a successful refurbishment can have and, from the point of view of investors, shows there is plenty of value to be achieved in existing schemes rather than solely focusing on new-build.”

L1 Property, which is the UK property investment arm of fund manager L1 Capital, invests in existing and modern residential property with potential for capital growth in major UK cities outside London. It seeks to add value by bringing capital to under-invested assets.

James Anderson, of L1 Property, said: “Resify are a trusted partner with whom we have a great relationship and have worked with across numerous L1 properties. Their hard work at Skyline has created a new feel and helped deliver on our original business plan.

“At L1, we have always been impressed with Resify’s ability to deliver high quality refurbishments within short turnaround times. We look forward to continuing our partnership across the remainder of Skyline and other sites.”


Material Source Studio

Material Source Studio has opened its doors, offering architects and designers in the North West the opportunity to immerse themselves in ‘beautifully useful’ products and materials.

The first of its kind in the UK, the 15,000 sq ft studio is situated in the Grade II-listed Hanover Building in Manchester’s NOMA. Set across two levels, it features a wealth of inspirational exhibits and interactive displays from more than 35 leading brands operating in the commercial interiors and built environment sectors. It also includes an 80-seat theatre, a CPD area, a 300+ book library, seven meeting spaces, a co-working hub and a podcast studio, plus, an internal garden and a fully mature, six-metre tree, spanning both floors.

The space is enhanced further with a seasonally-changing gallery, opening with two exhibitions as part of the Material Source Studio Presents series.
“From the Ground up: A preview” comprises a celebration of innovation in biomaterial development, and “Coo Birds by May Wild Studio” features the local studio’s signature Coo Bird sculptures, inspired by Manchester’s pigeon population.

Fusing the creative acumen of Darren Clanford with the operational experience of Michael Rogan, Material Source Studio was a venture born out of a desire to support and champion the North West’s creative communities. The addition of David Smalley as commercial director bolstered the vast amounts of experience both Darren and Michael bring to the table.

Michael Rogan, operations director and co-founder, said: “With Material Source Studio, we’ve had nothing but support from the design community of the North. And, for this, I can’t thank them enough. It’s kept us positive through a pretty tough transformation over the past two years.

“The Studio has been designed by the team at Material Source led by Darren, the partners and the A&D community. I’d like it to be used by everyone as a place to work, meet and, also, socialise. Something we’ve all missed lately.

“I, personally, can’t wait for the talk series we’ll be running in our theatre space, especially the sessions focused on how we can influence the wellbeing of everyone who walks through our door. After being empty for almost 50 years, it will be great to see the Hanover Building alive again.”