Manchester is getting another huge new multi-vendor food and drink venue in a developing part of the city.
Last summer, rumours started swirling that Allied London’s shipping container food and drink complex Boxpark would be coming to Manchester to breathe new life into a building called Albert Shed. No, that’s not the Castlefield restaurant of similar name but a big old empty building on the junction of New Quay Street and Water Street.
To help you to get your bearings, this building is a short jog away from the spectacular new Factory International arts venue. If you lobbed a chicken bone from the door (which, of course, you wouldn’t) it might hit the former air and space hall that used to be part of the Science and Industry museum and is now going to become a tech hub for the brain-boxes of the future. Also nearby is the former Granada Studios which is going to be transformed into the much anticipated members club for the modern age Soho House with the American roadside hotel inspired Mollie’s Motel sitting underneath.
This rapidly developing area is being dubbed the St John’s district and naturally there will be a co-living complex of 750 homes by U+nion from Vita Group popping up nearby soon too.
Shipyard is set to be a 30,000 sq ft destination overlooking the River Irwell with the huge ground floor space (which was a car park) transformed into an airy communal area for drinking and dining. A second floor mezzanine level will be built into the structure overlooking the main food hall and a glass panelled roof will sit above.
Designed by architects 3D Reid, it will take inspiration from Manchester’s NQ success story Mackie Mayor as well as enormous European markets like Kyiv Food Market and Time Out Market in Lisbon. Early plans show that graffiti, huge graphics and industrial features will be part of the aesthetic for the exterior, giving it a Williamsburg Brooklyn kind of feel.
According to the architect’s design statement, Shipyard’s food hall will have space for “a mix of artisan vendors and rolling smaller stalls” but it’s unclear at this stage if these smaller stalls will be for ready to eat food or incorporate a retail element. The plans show it will also have an area for live entertainment.
Manchester already has tons of multi-vendor food and drink spaces. Hatch, New Century, Exhibition, Society and the aforementioned Mackie Mayor to name a few. But over at that end of town, something of this ilk may be welcomed by residents who feel their area has been a bit neglected in the angoing Manchester glow up. If you’ve never heard of the St John’s district, perhaps the many developments in the area will have it rolling off your tongue as easily as the Northern Quarter, Spinningfields or Ancoats does when deciding where to go for dinner and drinks.
To learn more about the scheme, Manchester City Council’s reference number for this project is 136041/FO/2023 and it can be found on the planning portal.