Ask unveils cut-price First Street offer

ASK Developments’ chief executive Ken Knott has revealed more of its plans for the firm’s First Street scheme at the southern end of the city centre.

Mr Knott said that a second hotel would be built on the opposite side of the new cultural building to the £25m Melia Hotel building already announced.

He also said that the 50,000 sq ft arts building, which will house the Cornerhouse and Library Theatre, will bring around  one millionvisitors to the site, encouraging retail and leisure operators to set up shop.

It is the third outing that the scheme has had at MIPIM, although last year’s relaunch was radically different to the initial scheme in 2008, which was based on building scores of apartments and prime office buildings.

However, the new scheme envisioning up to 1m sq ft of “highly flexible city blocks” will be pitched at a more reasonable rate for occupiers, who can take shell and core space from £15 per sq ft or Grade A space at £20 per sq ft – a 30% discount to current prime rates.

The firm said that the new office accommodation will appeal to a wide range of commercial occupiers, particularly those seeking the benefits of a central and highly accessible city centre location but without the specific needs of the higher value professional and financial services sector.  

Mr Knott said: “The concept was conceived as ‘shared platforms’, much like automotive production.

“The innovative energy-efficient base chassis of each building can be used in a variety of configurations tailored to a specific activity or can perform equally well in its base model format.

“Internally, tall, airy spaces with floor-to-ceiling windows interspersed with useful working walls can be combined with street level space and public and private amenities.”

Architect Ian Simpson also unveiled a broader vision for the area, which would need the co-operation of several partners. This included the opening of several of the railway arches beneath Manchester Oxford Road station and a realignment of the station itself, with new entrances being added.

It also incorporated use of the Hotspur Press building as cheap creative space and putting converted containers providing cheap office space on the disused part of the Macintosh Mills site, which was recently re-acquired by Manchester City Council.

Click here to sign up to receive our new South West business news...