“As it was our first visit to MediaCity, we weren’t sure what had been built. For some reason we were expecting a tour of the facilities and a sales pitch on office space,” admits Turner. As the evening was arranged by Peel, the site developers who will soon have a lot of office space at the site on their hands, such expectations are not unreasonable. The hard sell was never forthcoming though, according to Turner, perhaps because Peel already believe the site desirable enough to sell itself. “It’s certainly a sexy location, down by the waterfront, and you can see why agencies will jump at the chance of moving there,” says McCubbin, who is positive the offices on offer will have no shortage of takers. “I know for sure that there are agencies in the centre of Manchester not renewing their leases because they want to see what offer they can get in the MediaCity.” McCubbin was left impressed by MediaCity, and thinks it will be a success if the ideal of a creative community, talked up at the launch, comes to fruition. He tempers however, that if professional businesses from outside the media sector – the likes of legal and financial firms – move into the site as has been murmured, MediaCity’s impact and value could be diluted. “Businesses from outside the media sector will want to move in because it’s an attractive location with real standout. There’s nothing else like it for them in Manchester,” McCubbin reasons. “But if they do move in, it won’t help substantiate MediaCity’s claim to being an international media hub.” While McCubbin says he’s in no rush to up sticks and move to the Salford Quays site, he believes some agencies will be desperate to be there. “There will undoubtedly be some who will want to say they were the first. But we’re in the northern quarter which has already built a creative reputation and is valuable because you can bump into someone who’ll have some work for you just by being here. The MediaCity will take time to establish itself, so we wouldn’t give up our location lightly.” Turner has his reservations too. He is largely positive about the potential of MediaCity, but still has questions of his own which went unanswered on the evening. He says: “The main questions with MediaCity have been: do you have to be based there to benefit from it and will there be a fair chance to benefit from it? There is always the possibility that it won’t be just the BBC relocating, but a large chunk of London as well; it could be that the BBC will prefer to bring the relationships it already has with it, rather than make new ones. “[MediaCity chief executive] Brian Greasley wasn’t saying either way, but he made it clear MediaCity is something you can’t ignore if you work in the creative sector.”What Greasley did discuss that struck a chord with Turner was the possibility of relationships forming and flourishing as a result of being neighbours at MediaCity. “He compared the project to the setting up of Silicon Valley in the seventies. Stanford University invested in a site where companies would buy from each other and sometimes actually buy each other. His argument was that a lot of the time we know how to be creative, but not how to be profitable and as the first project of its kind in Europe, MediaCity would help solve this problem. “Silicon Valley was an excellent example, as it does hold some of the best and wealthiest companies in the world. There are several initiatives aimed at raising Manchester’s standing as a city to the level of cities like Singapore and Los Angeles, but this one does have concrete factors in its favour. “With the BBC moving into MediaCity, the complex already has a body big enough to attract smaller companies to it. The project seems well planned and well funded and if it follows the Silicon Valley blueprint, it should be a success.”
OK. It is not quite in Manchester, but MediaCity is close enough to the city to ensure that it will have a massive influence on its development. Last week, the creative community was invited to a sneek preview of the site. What did they think of it?