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The Grouch – 30/09/2010

Big club; big wheels; the beginnings of Origin and what now for Granada

Published on September 30th 2010.

The Grouch – 30/09/2010

Sportcity has the history – what about its future?
The Grouch took a day trip to Sportcity in East Manchester last week, to find out about some of the fascinating history of the site (more on that on the main site next week).

Site remediation work is underway on a huge chunk of land around the stadium, to ready it for development. What will go on there, however, is still anyone’s guess. On one of The Grouch’s favourite internet forums, SkyscraperCity, rumours abound about what we might see on there, from an office park to a theme park, which could rival Disneyworld.

The latter might not be such a leap – if a piece in one of the nationals about a sponsorship link-up between City and Disney are to be believed. Aside from fuelling plenty of Mickey Mouse gags from the Red part of Manchester, it shows how far the club has come commercially to be even mentioned in the same sentence as a corporation of that size.

Other ideas that have previously been raised include a mega-ramp, a skyscraper hotel to rival the Burj in Dubai, a live entertainment complex (the club was, and still is understood to be in talks with Apollo Resorts & Leisure on that one) and a camel racing track. Ok, perhaps not the last one.

But there is still no word on when any announcement might be made.

A very intelligent blog by Peter Brophy, a Mancunian solicitor living in Russia, guesstimates that Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala could be development partners on the site, largely due to the fact that its chairman is Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan – the owner of Man City.

Some of Mubadala’s projects are seriously big - Arzanah, a 1.4m sq m residential and mixed-use community development; Sowwah Island, the heart of Abu Dhabi’s new Central Business District; and the Mina Zayed Waterfront, a mixed-use leisure and entertainment district.

Whatever happens, it has to be big – not just to satisfy the council and the Manchester public, but to satisfy the owners themselves.

If I were a gambling man, I’d be tempted to suggest the end of the season for an announcement, to time with glory on the pitch – or make up for a season of disappointment.

West waiting on the money men
So, West Properties says Origin will be back on site in six months; that’s what you said six months ago, say the local residents. It’s in the best interests of both that the scheme restarts as soon as possible, of course. But it could be worse. The developer isn’t in administration (see BSC Group on Sarah Point, Sarah Tower and Issa Quay and Asquith’s Grand Central site); nor are they in a legal wrangle with their bank and unlikely to get funding (Employment Exchange). They aren’t enemies of the council (step forward Britannia Hotels) and they haven’t speculatively built in a poor occupier market.

If Starwood stays on board, a W Hotel will be a feather in Manchester’s cap. The office and residential elements are a worry, however, and unless they offer good quality at a realistic price, they’re not going to fly, with occupiers or investors.

It needs a big pre-let, and dragging the corporate big boys out of the CBD comfort zone will be tricky. Another top class hotel is a must for Manchester, however.

The fact that funding has yet to be signed off will cause the nerves to jangle – and the residents are not prepared to be April fools.

Is Granada giving Peel a sign?
The Granada TV sign came down this week – but is it the beginning of the end for the station’s stay in Manchester?

There are still strong indications that ITV is close to agreeing a deal with Peel Media to occupy the vacant Trafford Wharf site next to the Imperial War Museum North, which is being connected to MediaCity via a new footbridge.

A tender has been put out for site remediation in the middle of the plot, worth between £700,000 and £2.5m, which could be significant.

Peel is keen for ITV to relocate, even offering to rebuild Coronation Street for them. The old building is looking a bit past it, and the lure of MediaCity will be tough to resist. It will be interesting to see if Manchester sticks by its recent public proclamation of co-operation with Salford and Trafford, or if it fights to keep Granada within the city walls.

Big wheel keep on turnin’
One thing that is staying in Manchester is the big wheel, according to the city council. The rumour mill had the wheel leaving the city in January, never to return. The Grouch was concerned, especially after an enjoyable recent trip on the attraction, from where you can take in the faraway hills of the rest of Greater Manchester, and the staff canteen in Next. But the council says it is staying. Which is wheely good news. Sorry.

Lowry Mall on the up
Things are looking up for The Lowry Outlet Mall on Salford Quays, which has seen September sales increase 30 per cent year-on-year and footfall rise by 25 per cent compared to last year.

The Gap Outlet is bringing in the 24-45 year olds, according to centre manager Rob Hallworth, which is having a knock on effect on our other retailers. But one thing is still concerning. Must it be called a mall? We’re not in America. What’s wrong with ‘shopping centre’?

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

James11364September 30th 2010.

Re Origin... but Grouch there is a much better site for a hotel on the Aytoun Campus of MMU. This could be a really great development better than 'W's cramped London effort.... Grander for Civil Partnerships I think than the shady nook of Origin's public realm effort.

As for residential quality.. just check out the actual plans on the Council Planning site.

But we got it and ...twas better it was built now or some decision about what to do about it be made as you say at Easter 2011

AnonymousOctober 1st 2010.

James, stop whining. That site is/was perfect for a hotel and frankly before the development was a dump that was used as a, urm how can we put this 'recreational overflow for Canal Street' prior. W Hotels are pretty high class hotels, unless you were expecting a Four Seasons that it. Their brand is young professional with a little fun (my words not theirs) and fits perfectly with the area. Part of me wants them to pull out and leave a big hole their to be concreted over with the names of the naysayers etched into it for eternity. You don't like the concept? Boo hoo. Now get over it.

Smyth HarperOctober 1st 2010.

hahahah "recreational overflow for Canal Street". Priceless.

It has the chance to be great development and give the village a boost, but dear god almighty those "fun" professionals on their marketing hoardings are a miserable bunch!

ConManOctober 1st 2010.

Will we ever but shut of that stupid wheel? I want Exchange Square back.

Wheel of FortuneOctober 1st 2010.

It's just all about money again, innit?

J E SibberingOctober 1st 2010.

I too want Exchange Square back. You can get the same view on top of Shudehill Car Park, for free. But not of the Next canteen.

Why d'you think it's good news it's staying o grumpy one?

AnonymousOctober 3rd 2010.

Why do we want trash like Coronation St to be made anywhere in the region?

I'd prefer greater Manchester to be a junk TV manufacturing free zone. Media city, with its cast off bits of the BBC from London and and maybe an ITV soap opera factory is nothing for us to be proud of.

AnonymousOctober 3rd 2010.

the wheel will ruin piccadilly gardens.

A lot of people think the gardens are shite, they're not. A shadow of their former self arguably but with the new surrounding restaurants and cafes and the new trees, the relaid grass, they seem to work now, they have atmosphere.

they should place the new wheel on a peripheral site, help invigorate one of the areas which wont be developed for a long time - new islington, owen street, middlewood locks, the granada site if it closes?

how about first street? The council have a significant stake here don't they?

Burt CodeineOctober 3rd 2010.

It's a bit dubious that wheel thingy. It's essentially a private 'leisure building' that's been plonked on a public (or so I thought) square. It's hardly unique either - most UK cities have their own now....

As for the City development...this has the potential to be one of the next great stories in recent times for the city. Possibly on par, with MediaCity...both of them bookmarking the city centre, spreading the love and size of the city tenfold. Close of season is a little long to wait though isn't it? From a few 'docs' doing the rounds, things might be tied up in the next month or so...

The GrouchOctober 4th 2010.

Because, tblzebra, it was a hackneyed way of labouring the word 'wheely' into a sentence. Now on your way.

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