MANCHESTER UNITED legend Gary Neville's company has agreed a deal to start building a £200million city-centre development in January.
Planning for the St Michael's project began in 2016 and the Sky pundit was forced to defend it just a year later in the wake of criticism from some Manchester residents.
The 46-year-old has several business ventures outside of football.
And he took to Instagram on Tuesday to announce the commencement of his latest one.
He wrote: "Welcome to St Michaels , Manchester.
"We’ve just completed the deal to build phase 1 starting in January and can’t wait."
The scheme includes 185,000 sq ft of office space across nine floors, a public realm and a rooftop restaurant for 900 guests with views across the city.
Contractor Bowmer & Kirkland will deliver phase one.
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The project is being partly delivered by UFC backer KKR and is expected to be finished in 2024.
Neville said: "This is such an important project for Manchester.
"We are really pleased to be announcing the start-on-site in what is another major step forward for this legacy scheme.
"The aim is to deliver a world class development for our city and the UK.
"Our team has worked tirelessly with our joint venture partner KKR, along with contractor B&K and Manchester City Council, and it is the dedication of these teams that has enabled the first phase to come to fruition in the new year."
Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig added: "This is momentous news for the St Michael’s project.
"This development will be transformational for the Jackson Row area and confirmation that a start on site is imminent is very welcome.
"High quality and sustainable investment such as this is the type of development we should be pitching for as the city navigates its way through recovery from the pandemic."
Neville's former team-mate Ryan Giggs was involved in the project at inception.
In 2017, they said the St Michael's scheme would deliver 'the biggest statement in architecture' the city has seen in modern times and promised to create 1,000 jobs.
However, Historic England said the city 'deserves better'- adding the development 'would jar against the grand civic buildings which define this part of Manchester'.
There were early concerns from locals as the project was set to include the demolition of the former Bootle Street police station and the beloved Sir Ralph Abercromby pub.
An online petition to save the pub – said to be the inspiration for the boozer in the BBC's Life On Mars – was signed by thousands of people at the time.
'LONDON GETS EVERYTHING'
But Neville leaped to its defence and said: "New York and London are two of the most tourist-friendly cities in the world, and millions of people flock every year to see Wall Street sitting in the shadows of the Empire State Building.
"And Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster and Big Ben aren’t harmed by the Gherkin or the Shard.
"People in the north, I always hear them say, ‘Oh yeah, but London gets everything’.
"But then when you start to bring the types of buildings and operations to Manchester it comes with, I sometimes hear complaints and I don’t understand that.
"I get very depressed when I think of the fact that people tell me that large, modern buildings can’t live next to historic old buildings.
"I’ve still got to walk around this city.
"I’ve still got to be able to look people in the eye.
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"Who will wake up every morning in ten years’ time and think, ‘That development’s ruined my life? That development’s really caused me harm’?"
Neville is director of Jackson's Row Developments.
The initial concept was designed by Make Architects who have delivered some of the most prominent buildings in the UK.
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