Much-anticipated international hotel and club will instead be a new ‘roadside’ motel and diner
They’ve said no to bankers, politicians, Kardashians and now, it seems, Manchester (sort of).
It’s been widely reported that Soho House - the exclusive private members’ club with branches in London, New York and Barcelona – were planning to launch their nineteenth ‘house’ at Manchester’s Old Granada Studios, as part of developer Allied London’s wider £1.3 billion St John’s scheme.
The hospitality group - which also operates dozens of international hotels, restaurants and spas – were to join a high-end charge on Manchester from the capital, flanked by premium brands such as D&D London, The Ivy (both opening new venues in neighbouring Spinningfields in 2018) and the Zetter on London Road.
However, a recently revised planning application reveals that the Soho House group instead intend to use the former Granada TV headquarters to trial a new venture – a ‘roadside restaurant and hotel concept’ called Mollies Motel & Diner.
Which, let’s be honest, sounds less like a plush club of cool creatives sipping crystal glass martinis, and more like a neon knocking shop on Highway 69.
An odd move, an odd brand, perhaps, for the city’s most high profile property development.
According to planning documents, Manchester will be the first city to welcome the ‘roll-out model’ from Soho House, with six more sites to follow across the UK. Though it looks suspiciously like Oxford may get there first.
They say the eight-storey 210-bed hotel will look to attract ‘experiential visitors’ with a ‘cool, well-designed retro feel’, while the restaurant will be themed around a 'retro-American style 1920’s diner'.
Hold on. Retro? American? Diner? Oh dear. Haven’t we been here before?
All seems a bit of a let down, doesn’t it? The arrival in Manchester of Soho House, a trendy global brand for 'creative souls', appeared to affirm the city’s growing international cultural reputation.
And why wouldn't they want to launch here? After all, outside of London, this is the largest media production hub in the country, with over 50,000 workers in the creative and digital industries. The city has seen the BBC and ITV expanding operations in MediaCity, The Guardian and Channel 4 eyeing up spots for relocation, plus the successes of cultural institutions such as Manchester International Festival, The Whitworth, HOME.
There's also the small matter of the north's new £110m flagship arts centre, The Factory, going up in the Granada studios car park.
But nope. Instead Manchester gets a motel and another retro American diner. Oh well, probably for the best, Manchester's never really taken to private members' clubs... just ask Club Brass.
Soho House have been approached for comment. Mollies is expected to open in 2019.