Mark Davies, the director of Manchester-based Philip J Davies Holdings on the Manchester scene and learning from wise heads
What are you working on?
I’m concentrating on Sevendale House in the Northern Quarter, Manchester. At 11,150m², it’s Grade II-listed and in the Stevenson Square conservation area. We’re refurbishing six floors from the ground up. Working with Buttress Fuller Alsop Williams, we’ll be reinstating the lightwell, installing lifts and creating a new entrance. Next is a building in Barnsley.
How have you found the past several years?
As we established a good tenant base, the years following the recession have been reasonable. Although we did not realise how devastating the crisis would be, we were aware in the early to mid-2000s that the property market was overheated and it would burst. We took many precautions to make sure we wouldn’t be hit too hard and that plan has stood the test of time.
Have you witnessed overseas money coming into the region, and would you work in London?
Not first hand, but I am aware that British commercial property is considered to be a relatively sound investment. I’d consider working in London, but that is something to contemplate later.
Are you looking for new talent and how do you find architects?
I am not looking to instruct any architects at present. However, I am always searching for new talent. It’s vital to move with the times and engage with new architects with fresh ideas.
Which of your projects is your favourite and why?
This project [Sevendale house] is a favourite as it is bringing an important historical building back to life. I’m confident the results will equal the best office space in Manchester.
Which regeneration scheme most inspires you and why?
There isn’t one regeneration project that stands out, but the evolution of Manchester over the past 15 years has been inspiring and is demonstrative of what can be achieved when public and private sectors work together.
What do you think about the current government’s attempts to drive development?
The government hasn’t gone far enough. They should have included redevelopments when they agreed to an 18-month rates freeze on new developments.
The government hasn’t gone far enough
The government should also have abolished empty property rates, which is an unfair tax and has led to major problems in the commercial sectors and resulted in a slower recovery.
Who has given you the best advice?
I listen to my father who is 92. He has been in property for 60 years. We tend to focus on youth and ignore those with life experience, but their advice is invaluable.