Work under way on transformation of Manchester’s Rylands building

Rylands building

Enabling works for the transformation of the former Debenhams store in central Manchester have begun, with main works scheduled to start in 2023 and completion expected in early 2025.

German investor, AM alpha, is to convert the iconic Rylands building into a mixed-use development comprising retail, leisure and office space. It acquired the site for £87m in 2017.

The Grade II-listed building on the corner of Market Street and High Street, will undergo extensive modernisation.

The complete refurbishment will include fully redeveloping the existing building, converting the upper floors into high quality office space and creating a shopping arcade on the ground floor.

Global real-estate investment family firm AM alpha will also add a four-storey extension to the building, meaning Rylands will boast 10 floors of high quality office space, a shopping arcade and a leisure area, mainly for restaurant businesses, after the refurbishment.

The building is designed to achieve net zero carbon status. After the renovation of the historic building is completed, a certification for sustainable construction according to Breeam Excellent or Nabers 5* is planned.

Stephan Schmid, senior vice president at AM alpha, said: “Working with listed buildings is always a great privilege. We are proud to be able to give this historic Manchester landmark a new future and restore Rylands to its former glory in a very sustainable way.

“In this way, we are also helping to achieve Greater Manchester’s 2038 carbon neutrality target.”

Local construction company Russell WBHO, which specialises in listed and sustainable projects, will act as a construction partner for the project, while local property companies OBI and Barker Proudlove have been appointed as letting agents.

Will Lewis, founding director at OBI, said: “It’s fantastic working with AM alpha on such an exciting project in our home town.

“Rylands is a well known, impressive building. The property is close to bustling areas such as Piccadilly Gardens and the Northern Quarter and will appeal to many local businesses. Due to the sought-after location, we already see a lot of interest from potential future tenants.”

Gareth Russell, founder and managing director of Russell WBHO, said: “With our extensive experience in historic preservation and sustainable building, we will make AM alpha’s vision a reality.”

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