The man tasked with overseeing MediaCityUK’s £1bn expansion believes start-ups will be able to grow into unicorns without ever having to leave the campus.
Property director Chris Reay estimates that MediaCityUK is only ‘a third to halfway on our journey’ with exciting plans in the pipeline.
Currently home to 330 companies – including 90 in the tech incubator at The Landing – and 8,000 workers, Reay said it was important to bust the myth that MediaCityUK was just about the media because the BBC and ITV are based there.
Five floors of Blue Tower and two floors of White Tower are being refurbished at a cost of £3.5m and £1.2m respectively with the aim of creating more smaller suites for starts-ups and SMEs.
Reay said: “The BBC were a very important catalyst. They started all this. You have to remember that 10 years ago this was not an operational site.
“There’s a misconception that it’s only for media companies. If you start to look at what’s here we have The Hut Group, Ericsson, Kellogg’s, Bupa and quite a large number of non-media companies who see this as an excellent place for their business.
“We have some fantastic organisations here and a lot of the conversations we’re having are with people who want to be part of the digital tech community. It’s my job to create a variety of products that enable them to all come here.
“There’s also a misconception that MediaCityUK is complete. We’re creating leading managed workspace with wellness, digital connectivity, an events programme and connections between its members at its heart.
“It’s going from a landlord who just provides space to actually providing the community. I believe a one person start-up will be able to grow into a unicorn without ever having to leave MediaCityUK.”Reay said the fact that the destination is largely traffic-free sets it apart from congested and polluted city centres. “How do we make MediaCityUK a smart city and a healthy city?” he asked.
MediaCityUK’s development potential over the next decade will add 2.5m sq m, including 10 new buildings across eight plots, including 50,000 sq m of business accommodation, over 4,000 sq m of live/work units, 1,871 residential units including town houses, over 4,400 sq m of retail and leisure space and over 1,800 car parking spaces.
Reay said: “At the moment we have 1.4m sq ft and it’s 96 per cent occupied. We have many examples of companies that have started off small and grown.
“The scale and pace of change is significant. Peel own and operate everything on the site, which is almost unique.”
Reay joined MediaCityUK from Allied London, where he was responsible for overseeing commercial leasing, investment sales and development activity of The XYZ Building, No 1 Spinningfields and securing the 220,000 square foot pre-let to Booking.com at Enterprise City. He also established co-work business, All Work & Social.
MediaCityUK is a joint venture between Peel L&P and Legal & General.