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The evolving story of St. John’s: Refreshed masterplan reveals new chapter, including ‘Enterprise City’

Creation of a dedicated ‘Enterprise City’ will boost city’s capital growth

Large-scale venue Factory will offer a genuine cultural counterweight to London

Diversity of living spaces will create a socially conscious, creative and complete neighbourhood

A refreshed masterplan has been unveiled for St John’s, Manchester and with it a commitment by developer Allied London to seamlessly blend enterprise, culture and living; creating one community in one neighbourhood.

Allied London’s vision for the eight acre site, which includes the heritage rich Old Granada Studios, is to create a best-in-class city centre neighbourhood: a place to live, work and play, a place for enterprise and innovation; for culture; entertainment and leisure; a game-changer for the city’s international profile.

St. John’s will bring a new way to live and love the Manchester experience and as plans for the site gather pace the founding elements of enterprise, culture and living have been further defined in the latest masterplan, which now incorporates large scale cultural and performance space, Factory, opportunities to revitalise nearby Grade II listed Campfield Markets and The Bonded Warehouse and through the development of inspiring public realm that meaningfully connects St. John’s with Factory and Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry (MoSI).

Enterprise City

Allied London’s plans for an 800,000 sq ft ‘Enterprise City’ will unite digital, creative and tech-enabled businesses across six diverse buildings each with its own identity and character: Old Granada Studios, The Bonded Warehouse, Central Village, South Village and Campfield Markets.

Building upon the tried and tested concept of ‘working adjacencies’ that Allied London has implemented with previous buildings such as XYZ, Spinningfields, Enterprise City has grown out of the increasing demand for ‘creative enterprise proximity’.

Michael Ingall, Allied London’s Chief Executive commented: “The key to Enterprise City’s success will be in its ability to attract relevant technology, media, and digital companies that in turn will attract capital. The bringing together of a large number of driven businesses will create an entirely new enterprise cluster within Manchester City Centre. A place of this nature is as yet unimagined.”

Enterprise City will be unified by a single, collective objective –  to create opportunity and growth for Manchester. Designed purposefully to cater for businesses big and small, Enterprise City is regulated only by its desire to include the adventurous, the energetic and the ready.

Enterprise City begins in 2016 with Old Granada Studios, the existing HQ building at St. John’s, containing music studios, event space, offices and newly launched co-work space OGS Works. The existing studios space will be reconfigured to form a suite of spaces for art, culture, music and performance, sitting alongside a series of commercial container units for start-ups and entrepreneurs.

The 80,000 sq ft Bonded Warehouse, located within the heart of the St. John’s development is a piece of architectural heritage, which forged modern day Manchester. As a part of Enterprise City it will be brought back into modern day use in 2017 with the introduction of vibrant restaurants and bars on the lower ground floors and loft-style, modern, open-plan workspace on the upper levels. 

Instantly recognisable as a combination of workspace and a social destination, The Bonded Warehouse will be a cluster of economic opportunity for forward-thinking companies, with the possibility of a new glass office space, revealed in the latest masterplan, dedicated entirely to the digital sector providing a modern contrast to the building.

Central Village, is the sister site to the already highly acclaimed XYZ. Designed for companies in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications industries that that care about community as much as corporate, it will be flexible, dynamic and inherently collaborative. Its structural DNA – a series of interlacing fingers linked by bridges – is designed to encourage the sharing of ideas, imitating a collegiate concept.

South Village will offer a collection of small interlinked warehouse design spaces aimed at media and SMEs.

Michael Ingall, Allied London’s Chief Executive, added: “St. John’s will be the most exciting creative enterprise cluster ever seen in the UK. Allied London’s own capital reach is significant: to the US, Far East and Europe. Enterprise City will be the go to place for investors wishing to seek out the best tech investment solutions in the North West.

“Enterprise City will have a base in London, New York, and Hong Kong, with outreach to China. It will have its own mentoring, support and financial marketing platform in addition to a technology platform that will enable its members to have global reach.”

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Enterprise City embodies Manchester’s approach to creativity and culture, and its central role in supporting the city’s growth, while creating a hive for businesses at the cutting edge of digital industries. The space will also allow creative minds to work collaboratively and help build a world renowned hub for the technology sector. 

“This combined with the high quality living at St John’s, will make this one of the city’s most exciting neighbourhoods, where modern living meets community right in the heart of Manchester.”

The refreshed and extended masterplan provides even greater opportunities to create new functional and physical connections between St. John’s, the Museum of Science and Industry and back to Deansgate, adding significant value to the overall quality of St. John’s and extending the regeneration outcomes across a wider area, creating a thriving urban location. A half mile long linear park – a mini New York high line –  will deliver connectivity and provide meaningful public realm.

Allied London’s acquisition programme includes the successful purchase of Castlefield House, providing further opportunities to consider adjoining sites such as Campfield Markets. Concept proposals have been developed for the market space, and branded as Union City, a free-flowing, visually and culturally interesting space for culinary experience, innovation and enterprise, and connecting the workspace proposals for the wider St. John’s area.

Living

A modern and sustainable community for the 21st Century, for the very first time, Manchester will have a residential community to really cherish, where work meets play, culture promotes creativity and innovation drives design.

The updated masterplan incorporates a collection of differing living spaces, essential to create a complete neighbourhood, where people can choose to rent or buy.

St. John’s Place will see the creation of four buildings, creating a multi-generational place, passed between the generations. It includes No.1 St. John’s Place – a 52 storey mixed-use tower which incorporates Nadler Hotel, a smart-luxury boutique hotel and 280 ‘mid-century design-inspired apartments for private sale including winter gardens on the top 12 floors.

South Village will create a new residential village in the heart of the St. John’s neighbourhood, within a beautiful mews type environment. With development set for 2017, eight new six-storey buildings will include retail, cafes and commercial studio units on the ground floor, while the apartments have been inspired by local craft and utilise exposed materials, expansive living areas and island kitchens. Communal garden terraces and balconies are a bold feature and all buildings will be linked with upper level bridges.

St. John’s Living is the brand under which three new residential towers will be designed to become Manchester’s leading Private-Rented-Sector product. Offering an aspirational lifestyle within a unique setting, people can be close to the action, without losing the sense of community at home.

Michael Ingall, Allied London’s Chief Executive, said: “St. Johns will offer a vibrant, sustainable, walkable neighbourhood which reflects the ever-increasing desire to live in more socially conscious, creative neighbourhoods that offer a choice of lifestyle.”

Culture

A cultural anchor for the neighbourhood, the masterplan now incorporates proposals for Factory. Hosting the type of cutting edge practices that are the lifeblood of the creative industries, Factory will be a new kind of large-scale venue that combines the extraordinary creative vision of Manchester International Festival, with the partnerships, production capacity and technical sophistication to produce and present innovative contemporary work year-round as a genuine cultural counterweight to London.

With a total floor space in excess of 13,000 square metres, high-spec tech throughout and flexible seating options, Factory will be large enough and adaptable enough to allow more than one new work of significant scale to be shown and/or created at the same time, accommodating combined audiences of up to 7000.

It will be a laboratory as much as a showcase, a training ground as well as a destination. Artists and companies from across the globe, as well as from Manchester, will see it as the place where they can explore and realise dream projects that might never come to fruition elsewhere.

The most unique aspect of Factory is the extent of flexibility that will be provided between the performing and making spaces, allowing for a multiple variation in configuration and therefore performance possibilities. There is no other comparable venue in the UK, greater Europe, or much of the world. Appointed architects, OMA are well-known for their world-leading design projects, including the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow (2015) the Fondazione Prada in Milan (2015) and the CCTV headquarters in Beijing.

Culture at Old Granada Studios will focus on innovative industry, creative invention and above all, a passion for ideas, and the brand name will be retained. The existing OGS HQ building, which has been organically developing over the past 12 months will be the first part of the site to be redeveloped and the arts will take centre stage, preserving a sense of the history and spirit of Granada TV. The existing studios and events spaces will link to a hotel by a new covered retail arcade and a new creative hub, consisting of a collection of container units will be built for innovators, creators and tech start-ups, who can relocate to either Central Village or the Bonded Warehouse as their business evolves.

The existing eight storey office building will remain, forming a new hotel and restaurant complex with a ground floor reception and seven floors of bedroom accommodation. In addition, the ninth floor will be replaced with a signature rooftop restaurant, forming part of a private members club. At rooftop level there will also be an outdoor heated swimming pool.

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