Former Debenhams store in Manchester to be turned into 10-floor shopping arcade, restaurants and offices

The Grade II listed building will undergo extensive modernisation for the mixed use development.

Plans have been unveiled to transform and extend the former Debenhams building in Manchester city centre.

Global real-estate firm AM Alpha want to create a ‘mixed use development’ in the Grade II listed Rylands building on the corner of Market Street and High Street. City leaders recently criticised the run-down state of the boarded-up building, which has lain empty since Debenhams closed its doors in 2021.

However, the new plans will see a a four-storey extension added to the 500,000 sq. ft building - creating 10 floors. AM Alpha plan to install a shopping arcade on the ground floor, with a ‘leisure’ area mainly for restaurants and office space above it - and hope to start the work next year and complete it by 2025, with enabling work already underway and planning consent given.

Stephan Schmid, senior vice-president at AM Alpha 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 neutrality target.”

The old Debenhams is at a prominent spot in Manchester city centreThe old Debenhams is at a prominent spot in Manchester city centre
The old Debenhams is at a prominent spot in Manchester city centre

Local construction company Russell WBHO, which specialises in listed and sustainable projects, are on board, while local property companies OBI and Barker Proudlove have been appointed as letting agents.

“It’s fantastic working with AM Alpha on such an exciting project in our home town. Rylands is a well-known, impressive building,” says Will Lewis, founding director at OBI. “The property is close to bustling areas such as Piccadilly Gardens and the Northern Quarter and will appeal to many local businesses. Due to the sought-after location, we already see a lot of interest from potential future tenants.”

Gareth Russell, founder and managing director of Russell WBHO, added: “We are delighted to be working with AM alpha to revitalise the historic Rylands building and position it in the market as a highly sustainable building. With our extensive experience in historic preservation and sustainable building, we will make AM Alpha’s vision a reality.”

Debenhams closed all its department stores last year after 200 years of trading, but has since opened a beauty-only store in the Arndale.