Russell WBHO is redeveloping a department store

The Rylands building in Manchester

German property developer AM Alpha has appointed Stretford-based contractor Russell WBHO to redevelop the Rylands building in Manchester city centre.

The Grade II listed building, on the corner of Market Street and High Street in Manchester, was previously a Debenhams department store. The full refurbishment will see the upper floors converted into offices and a new shopping arcade on the ground floor, also featuring a food court.

AM Alpha and its contractor will also add a four-story extension to the 500,000 square foot building to give Rylands 10 floors of office space above the ground floor retail and leisure space.

Work on the conversion of the vacant building has already started, with main works due to start in 2023 and be completed in early 2025. It is expected to achieve sustainable construction certification according to Breeam Excellent or Nabers 5*.

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AM Alpha bought the building for £87m in 2017. Senior Vice President Stephan Schmid said: “Working with listed buildings is always a great privilege. We are proud to be able to give this historic Manchester landmark a new future and restore Rylands to its former glory in a very sustainable way. In this way, we are also helping to achieve Greater Manchester’s 2038 carbon neutral target.”

Russell WBHO, specializing in listed and sustainable projects. The company was established in 2018 when South Africa’s largest construction company, Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon (WBHO), took a 60% stake in Russells Construction (see previous report here). In the year to June 2021, the new company had sales of £123 million.

Gareth Russell, Founder and Managing Director of Russell WBHO, said: “We are delighted to be working with AM alpha to revitalize the historic Rylands building and position it in the market as a highly sustainable building. With our extensive experience in historic and sustainable building preservation, we will make AM alpha’s vision a reality.”

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