one morning this week i noticed a flurry of activity on the origin princess street building site. the origin, a massive mixed use project on the corner of princess street and whitworth street, has been a ghost town for ages, with the only signs of any life being the two tower cranes watching over the site. for some reason the lights were still on in the cranes, i never could work out who was putting the pennies in the meter for them. anyway, i digress. the cranes came down this week.
i’m not massively sure what this signifies, as it has been nigh on impossible to find any news relating to the build. have the developers finally given up on origin, or have they sold the site on? having been unveiled as a high end project some years ago, the developers west properties built an identity for the project that gave off the impression that if you weren’t patrick bateman then there was very little point in you even considering the prospect of being part of this.
here is the quite horrible website for the project, which is seemingly trying to sell people the idea that awful, vacant people with no love of life want to be ‘part’ of origin. origin-princessstreet.com
in may of 2009 the build was seemingly very much on track, with an early 2011 opening scheduled in. piles were driven, a pretty hefty slab put in place, and then… well, nothing. one can only presume that the money ran out, and that was it. like many of the big building projects around manchester that sprang up in the mid-00’s, work slowed, and then stopped. according to the developers “origin occupies one of the very last prime development sites in the city.” shame that it appears to have been an abject failure then.
rather than constructing the quite oddly designed buildings, the origin site is now just a very specific set of foundations, waiting for someone to either pick it up and complete the build, or rip it apart. rather than representing a fantastic space, slap bang between oxford road, piccadilly and canal street, this site is all but unusable. i do hope that someone finds a way to finish this project, but i believe that the ‘aspirational aims’ of the original plan will have to be ditched. opulent office, spa and lifestyle choices aren’t going to sell. personally, i’d like to see an effort to introduce a green space into this area, akin to sackville street gardens, though i acknowledge that this is totally unrealistic. we shall have to wait and see what happens next.