Redevelopment of old Debenhams' Rylands Building faces major changes behind the scenes

-Credit: (Image: AM Alpha)
-Credit: (Image: AM Alpha)

The project to breathe new life into a Mancunian icon has been shaken up after reportedly ditching contractors hired to redevelop a grade-II listed building.

The Rylands Building, on Market Street in the city centre, was last used as a Debenhams store but closed in late 2020. It is owned by German firm AM Alpha, who unveiled plans to transform the 1930s art deco landmark into an office, shopping, and dining space with a new four-storey rooftop extension.

Initially, it’s understood AM Alpha appointed Russell WBHO to carry out the work. However, reports from property news site Place North West suggest the contractor has been ditched by AM Alpha and Greater Manchester’s Domis will take it on instead.

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Those reports have now been confirmed to the Local Democracy Reporting Service by a source familiar with the project.

It means there could be delays in completing the build, which was initially expected to be completed in early 2025. Already, the redevelopment has had a troubled start, drawing the ire of senior Manchester councillor Pat Karney over graffiti daubed on the hoardings outside.

The Rylands building is in line for development
Graffiti scrawled on the hoardings, seen at the end of 2022 -Credit:Sean Hansford | Manchester Evening News

Now, he’s set out an ultimatum to AM Alpha. “We had a report from our officers that they had two weeks to take the graffiti off the hoarding. It’s a lousy advert for the city,” he said.

“That message has been sent to the owners and if they do not do it, the council will do it and send them a bill. We will not allow this development to let Manchester down and make it look like a shanty town.”

AM Alpha, Domis, and Russell WBHO were all contacted for comment.