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12/02/2016

John Hughes - Managing Director, Ask Real Estate

Written by John Hughes

A lot has happened for Ask since MIPIM last year and we’ve been as busy as ever, if not busier!

Just last month, we revealed plans to create a £500m pipeline of commercial property development schemes throughout the Northern Powerhouse region, after Carillion acquired a majority stake in our business, cementing for the two companies a long term working relationship. This investment bought out the four founding shareholders of Ask which is now 15 years old, and whilst our main focus remains in Manchester, the investment allows us to extend our presence outside of the City Region.

In terms of development activity, the first phase of our Embankment scheme which we’re delivering in a JV with Carillion and Tristan Capital Partners, will complete this summer.  The 10-storey, 165,000 sq ft  Grade A office is attracting some very serious interest from occupiers moving into the city and with the  442-space Q-Park car park, the proximity to Victoria Station and the newly opened Exchange Square Metrolink stop, 101 Embankment is well placed to capture a skilled workforce within a 60 minute commute.

Such is the confidence in both the scheme and its location, that a planning application for the second phase of the development which comprises an adjacent identical office building named 100 Embankment, will be submitted this month.

Over at First Street, there’s also been lots of news since MIPIM 2015.
That started in May last year when we sold the 20-acre Estate to the UK subsidiary of German stock exchange listed PATRIZIA Immobilien AG. This coincided with the completion of the £500m leisure phase at the Northern end of the estate where Sainsbury’s and Pizza Express are now trading alongside their neighbours, HOME, the INNSIDE hotel and a raft of businesses based in Number One.  Watch this space as we will soon be announcing the remaining bar and restaurant operators to open.

Also just started on site is the next phase of development which comprises a 170,000 sq ft Grade A office building and up to 5 new retail/leisure opportunities at ground level.  Completion is set for September 2017 and as Number One has already established the area as a new business destination, confidence is high that there will be new companies attracted to First Street over the coming months.

It’s an incredibly exciting time for both Manchester and Ask right now. As we speak, cranes stand high and proud in the city centre from Embankment at one end, to Spinningfields at the other, plus at St Peter’s Square.

So I’m looking forward to the trip to Cannes next month, and expect it to be another landmark three days for our city.   If you’re also lucky enough to be heading south too, see you there!