Manchester Square Flourishes with Energy, Excitement and European Flair as New Retail Development Sets to Open
The finishing touches are almost complete, and already the beautifully designed Manchester Square is a standout destination on the corner of 120 Street and 107 Avenue in Queen Mary Park. With refined European style and architecture, the unique building will be home to 19 locally owned shops and businesses, and showcases a chiming clock tower, coloured lit fountain, indoor alley way and cool outdoor patios.
“I’m from Europe and I absolutely love Europe, - the smell, the touch, the feel, the environment – everything about it” explains Anton Morgulis, the developer of Manchester Square from 76 Group Co. “There are a lot of immigrants in this country too who have the same passion for European style, and I wanted to bring that here for all of Edmonton to enjoy.”
To enhance that style, fabulous murals have been a recent exciting addition to the walls of the buildings. Anton, a commercial real estate developer who once majored in sculpture and design, believes art is an important element for igniting discussion and bringing ideas and communities together.
After requesting original submissions from local artists, Anton selected Alixandra Jade from Alixandra Jade Art & Design Co. for the special project. The talented commercial artist has created artwork for Rogers Place, Lululemon, The Brick, Holt Renfrew and many other corporate clients in the city.
“We spent a lot of time and effort choosing our artist and we felt Alixandra brought a lot of energy to Manchester Square,” says Anton. “The idea was that in light of the unbalanced world we are living in right now, we wanted to give a sense of optimism - so that when people come down to see the murals, it puts a smile on their faces.”
Alixandra’s colourful murals grace two walls of the building: one has a variety of gorgeous wildflowers that faces the busy bike path; and the other is of a “mystery woman” painted on the loading dock facing east. “The floral one you see it when you are walking or biking, but the lady you see when you’re driving, from afar she just appears out of nowhere, she’s a hidden gem,” explains Alixandra. “I just love the whole tone of her - she’s one of my favourite pieces for sure that I have created.”
After finalizing details and digital renderings, it took the commercial artist over 200 hours to sketch and paint the murals at Manchester Square this summer. “I wanted to make sure it complimented the building, not contrast with it. I didn’t want to make an exact communication of it either. I’m so happy we did something that is light hearted because when people in the neighbourhood come by, they say that it enhances the area and they like the positivity it brings.”
The stunning paintings have been a huge hit on social media, racking up 17,000 views on Instagram. From curious locals to professional model shoots, the eclectic backdrop has become a popular hot spot.
“To see so many people taking photos, it does make me proud” says Alixandra. “I expected some attention, but not like this! I’m still trying to process it. It’s something I created but it exists because of Anton’s building and his appreciation of art.”
The beautiful murals compliment the overall design of Manchester Square including the lovely brick façade of the building. It is also a very unique feature of the development.
Half of the brick used for Manchester Square is actually left over brick from other construction projects. Anton has strategically sourced out free brick from masonry companies in western Canada that they no longer need to use, and is able to keep costs down for tenants.
“We want to be able to make things affordable for local retailers at Manchester Square,” he says. “In order to do that, we have to be super creative and environmentally sensitive.”
Distinct signage for each business will soon be going up over the brick facade. It is part of the overall plan to give every retail space there a look of individuality similar to shops you’d find in Europe.
The Manchester Square development will house a brewing company, a coffee shop and bar and other unique boutiques, plus the outdoor space will eventually host concerts and community events. All this compliments the new vibrant energy of Queen Mary Park, the 124 Street shops in Westmount, and the nearby Holland Plaza establishments.
Due to COVID the grand opening of Manchester Square will be taking place in the spring 2021. In the meantime, shops will be open this fall and customers can look forward to seeing beautiful outdoor lighting displays in the upcoming holiday season. And there’s plenty of opportunity to come down to snap photos of the floral murals locals have grown to admire and love, and experience a little bit of Europe in the middle of Edmonton.