Category: Owen Street Towers


On my ambles around Manchester now I’m back on my feet to some extent, I’ve made sure I don’t wander too far from a tram stop should my ankle decide it’s had enough. Either that or get an Uber. But, as things seem to be improving, I thought I’d try a walk into Greengate, across the river from the cathedral and get close to Exchange Court. It’s not finished yet but it’s reached its full height of 130m and is currently the second tallest building in the city after the Hilton Tower. By July/August this summer it’s going to be in fourth place though when the two Owen Street towers surge past it. It’s making quite an impact on the skyline with its gold coloured cladding so I thought I’d get closer. Here it is from Greengate Square just in front of the cathedral.

Its name, Exchange Court, is a nod to the Victorian railway station that used to be in this area. Bits of the viaduct leading into it are still there but the piece you see in this next picture is going to make way for yet more apartment blocks. The change in this area is stunning. Five years ago it was an area of derelict buildings and surface carparks that had been there since the 1960s. Now it’s a thriving, dynamic part of the city boasting the likes of Pep Guardiola (Manchester City’s much lauded manager) among the residents.

Th closer you get the more overwhelming it becomes, towering impressively over the surrounding area.

And it’s having a friend. On the carpark next to it another tower of 110m is just beginning. Actually they are squeezing two buildings on the site, the tall one and a smaller block. It’s going to rise straight out of the river so they are at the point of putting the foundations in and securing the river bank. Something which has been held up by an unknownabout overflow from the river that disappears under where the tower will be.

This is what The Residence will look like when it’s finished. It looks like it’s in splendid isolation but Exchange Court is within metres of it to the right of it. Something to remember if you buy an apartment I suppose.

And there’s another carpark next to The Residence that I imagine the developers are circling around as I post.

The company behind Exchange Tower, Renanker, have a reputation for planning and building whatever they set their minds to. Along with Allied London, they are dramatically changing the skyline of Manchester. They are building the aforementioned Owen Street Towers which we now have to call Deansgate Square I hear. They have just announced ANOTHER tower, provisionally called the Crown Street Tower. It will be 152m tall, 22 metres taller than Exchange Court. It will look like this.

It’s going to be built as part of the Great Jackson Street development as part of the rebuilding of a triangular piece of land hedged in by Chester Road, the Mancunian Way and the River Medlock. It’s already busy with the Owen Street/Deansgate Square towers and three more already have permission to be built. I hear that eventually there will be 25 towers on this site which has, for decades, been surface carparks and cheap storage units. This, below,  is an idea of the site and the massive amount of development that will happen. As you come in from the airport, it will look stunning as a first impression of the city. The buildings won’t all be in the same style, by the way. As each part is built the style will change but the effect will remain dramatic. The Crown Street Tower will be built on the tip of the triangular site (left in top picture) where it will dominate the Chortlton Road roundabout system.

Will all the towers be built? Well, as things are, they will. All the major economic regions of the world are on the up, together, at the moment. In spite of Brexit, the U.K. economy is doing much better than expected. And Manchester is flavour of the month at the moment with local, national and international developers who are pouring money into the city to build. And the buildings aren’t just left empty. As soon as they are finished they are occupied with people who have come to the city to take up jobs with the companies that want to start up here.

Amazon are the latest to join the party looking for a Manchester HQ to complement and support their operations at Manchester Airport and Warrington. The clever money is on that they will take the entire Edwardian Baroque Hanover Building  just off Exchange Square. It’s renovation has nearly finished. Close to Victoria Station and the tram stations, it’s a prestigious building close to others that Amazon would like to occupy to build an entire Amazon campus in the city. 

The Owen Street Towers have come on in leaps and bounds since my ankle incident, three months ago now. They are really making an impact on the city skyline and none of them are anywhere their full height. Eventually there will be four. Two (one about the same height as the Hilton Tower, the second, at 64 floors, will be the city’s new tallest building and the 5th tallest in the UK) are well underway. The glass cladding is racing up and it’s looking fine, especially on sunny days. A third one has just begun to rise but we are still waiting for the fourth. Not sure which this one is but I saw it rising above the Rochdale Canal where it disappears under Oxford Street and beneath the Palace Theatre.

Here it is again, looking from Oxford Street along Great Bridgewater Street. The little structure, called The Temple, is actually an underground bar that has been created in an underground Victorian gentleman’s public toilet. It’s name is a contraction of an old fashioned name for a public toilet…..a ‘Temple of Convenience.’

I took these two pictures from the middle of the tramlines in St. Peter’s Square. It’s a busy spot, toy have to keep your wits about you! In the top picture the Midland Hotel is on the right. The building going up at the end of the street is the AXIS Tower, a mere 28 storeys tall, being built on a tiny site by Deansgate/Castlefield Station. Another 35 storey building is planned for a piece of land beyond it. You can see the 64 storey tower growing on the left and the tower as tall as the Hilton Tower is just peeping from behind the Midland. In the second picture you can see the AXIS Tower again with the 64 storey Owen Street Tower. To its left you can see the Bridgewater Hall. This part of the city centre is changing dramatically.

Looking along Deansgate to the Hilton Tower. The Owen Street Tower that will be about the same height is in the distance a couple of hundred metres further out. The architect who designed the Hilton Tower, Ian Simpson, lives in the penthouse of his building. He’s also the architect of the Owen Street Towers. Rumour is he will buy the penthouse on top of his new tallest tower. 

 

I was curious to see what progress was being made on the Owen Street Towers. They are currently being built about 3 minutes walk away from HOME across Medlock Street and the river of the same name. As a reminder, there will be 4 towers with one being 64 storeys tall and, at a height of 201 metres, Manchester’s newest, tallest building.

At present they are building the podium out of which the towers will rise.

They have started on two of the towers. Tower 4 (44 storeys, 140 m) is being built closest to Chester Road, the old Roman road that linked Roman Chester to Roman Manchester and on to Roman York. Those Romans would be staggered to see what is being built on the edge of their Roman fort and their little, unimportant Roman town. You can’t see the core that is rising in the centre of the building as they have put up these screens. Behind them they are building the steel superstructure of the building. It’s interesting because the screens give a clue to the finished shape of the towers. They won’t be 4 sided square buildings. Each side has an indent which gives the tower a regular, inverted, octagon shape. It’s nice to something different that the usual glass boxes. This tower will be topped out in January 2018. It’s amazing how fast they shoot up. 

At the other end of the site I’m excited to see that they are building the tallest tower first.  You can see the core here. Look carefully and you can see an Easter egg stencilled onto the concrete (like they did on those towers on Cambridge Street). So that was where they were by the Easter weekend. They seem to be up to the 5th storey now so 59 to go! This tower will be topped out by July 2018. As yet, they haven’t released the dates for the building of the 2 other towers though I understand that the development has sold a lot of the apartments already, a lot going to foreign investors who will let them out and also benefit from the rise in price of the apartments. With the population of the city rising daily we are short of places for people to live.

A bit of a reminder of what the development will look like by 2020. They will make a dramatic welcome to the city centre as you drive in from the airport.

I was excited to see what progress has been made on the Owen Street towers. It’s the largest development in the city at the moment and one of the largest in Europe. When finished there will be four towers on a site that has been cheap industrial units and surface car parks on land between the end of Deansgate and the Mancunian Way. It’s been like this for decades and isn’t a great entrance to the city centre as you drive in from the western and south western suburbs. Here’s what it will look like when it’s finished. We’re looking at the towers from the Castlefield canal basin.  

There will be four towers. The smallest tower will be 122m (37 storeys), the next will be 140m (40 storeys), the third will be 158m (5o storeys), almost as tall as the nearby Hilton Tower. But it is the fourth we are most excited about. It will be 200.5m tall (64 storeys), the first building in Manchester to break through the 200m barrier, just. Being 31.5m taller than the Hilton Tower, it will be the new tallest building in the city and the fifth tallest building in the country. At ground level there will be gardens and a podium building full of all kinds of services (gyms, a cinema etc.) for the occupants of the apartments. They have started the tallest tower and two others it seems. The tallest will reach its full height by late 2018 and the entire scheme will be done and dusted by 2020. Here’s what it all looked like yesterday.

It’s such a big project that they’ve set up their own concrete factory on another piece of spare land so they have a constant supply. The four towers being built now are just the beginning of a considerably larger development for this part of the city. Plans for the rest haven’t been released yet.

I got talking to one of the builders who was doing something with the perimeter fence. They are always interesting to chat to and know stuff about what’s going on. He was obviously proud to be part of this project and did a lot of waving at the fresh air above our heads as he described where the towers were going and how high above us they would be. I was able to tell him about ANOTHER scheme that’s being developed at Trinity Islands about ten minutes walk away. That will be six towers on either side of the inner ring road linked together by sky bridges high above the ground like those buildings you see in Singapore or Dubai. And one of them is planned to be ONE METRE taller than the tallest Owen Street tower. We decided that there was a lot of willy waving going on in Manchester at the moment with architects and developers saying ‘my willy is bigger than yours!’

I think this will be my new project to follow closely over the next few years.

 

I hope the people behind the Great Jackson Street/Owen Street Project come up with a simpler name for this massive project that is about to take off at the end of Deansgate. It’s present name is a bit of a mouthful. I used to think Deansgate, which is the longest, straightest street in the city centre, used to run from Victoria Station to the junction with Whitworth Street near the Hilton Tower. After that the road bends and becomes Chester Road. But I’ve discovered that there’s a little loop of Deansgate that goes behind Deansgate Station into a part of the city centre called Knott Mill. You live and learn.

The company behind it have released some pictures about how it will affect the skyline in the city with one of the towers being 200m tall and the other three being substantial structures. So here they are….

Looking along Deansgate towards the Hilton Tower in the afternoon…

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Same view as above but in the evening…

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View from Castlefield Basin, with canal boats…

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View from the Roman Fort where the city began. I wonder what the Romans would have thought?…

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A view from Hulme…

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Looking along Moseley Street with the Bridgewater Hall…

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Looking along Whitworth Street, Palace Theatre on the right, Palace Hotel on the left…

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I like to follow the development of Manchester. We live in exciting times. Cranes punctuate the skyline from the city centre out to Salford Quays. The city streets are full of builders rubbing shoulders with Armani and Chanel suited business types in the coffee and sandwich shops. Towers are shooting up all over the city and older buildings are being replaced by new (not always keen on that one). Money is being thrown at the city, both domestic and foreign, as the city’s international profile rises and it is seen as the other city in the UK, along with London, to invest in. It’s hard to keep up with it all.

However, this project is one I’m keen to follow. Just south west of the city centre, at the end of Deansgate where the Hilton Tower dominates, there is an area of surface car parks and cheap looking industrial and service units. A series of tin boxes that were put up in the last century when Manchester was going through a bad time economically. They are surrounded by Great Jackson Street and crossed by Owen Street, hence the name. The project doesn’t have a proper name yet. Maybe Chestergate? Chester Road, the old Roman road that linked the Roman legionary cities of Deva (Chester) to Eboracum (York) and went through the Roman fort of Manchester runs along the north of the area. Though what the Romans would have made of what has happened to their little fort in the last 2000 years I can’t think. And it would be a brave Roman to risk his life in his chariot in the rush hour of Chester Road today. This is what the site looks like at the moment.

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What they plan to do with the area is huge. One of the surface car parks is going to be developed into four apartment towers. Nothing new in that in Manchester these days of course, but what marks these out is the sheer size of them. They are designed by Ian Simpson who’s designed the Hilton Tower which is a couple of hundred metres away.

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One of the planned towers isn’t quite as tall as the Hilton Tower. Two are roughly the same size as the Hilton Tower. But the fourth tower is a 200 metre one which will dwarf the nearby Hilton Tower at 169 metres. When finished it will be the tallest building in the city and the fifth tallest in the UK. At the base of the towers there will be all kinds of facilities for the residents; gym, cinema, swimming pool…. And for the rest of us there will be stores and gardens along the banks of the River Medlock. This is what it will look like. They will be finished by 2020.

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Planning permission hasn’t been given yet but the car park has already been closed and the surface scraped up. I think the city will rubber stamp the project. The next stage will be to let the archaeologists in to see what they can find. That’s always interesting. I’m not sure what was here before the tin boxes were built but the Victorians first developed this part of the city so there will be something under there. It may not be grand. But the Roman fort isn’t far from here and that spot where Grandad lived, near the new University campus is, isn’t far away. We went there when the archaeologists were in there. They were interested to meet him as he could tell them about the little houses they had found. Grandad was happy to tell them about it and was amused to be an human archaeological exhibit.

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The company doing the building is Renaker, one that has a reputation for delivering what they promise. At the moment they are finishing of Greengate 1, near the Cathedral, and are working on the Wilburn Street Basin project and the Water Street Tower at the city centre end of Regents Road. I suppose they will shift staff over from those projects to this one as the others finish.

I think this project is so massive, it deserves its own thread on the blog. 

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