MULTIPLEX has pulled out of the race to build one of the tallest tower projects in the UK.
The firm was shortlisted last month along with rivals Carillion and Laing O'Rourke for the £135 million Lumiere twin tower scheme in Leeds. One tower will be 170 m high, the other 112 m.
The scheme, co-developed by Scarborough Developments and KW Linfoot, has been designed by Ian Simpson Architects and will feature 600 apartments as well as offices and retail space on a site on Wellington Street near the city centre.
Multiplex's place on the shortlist came as a surprise, since the firm has a strategy of shunning tendered work in favour of negotiated bids and working for its own developments arm. This now appears to have put paid to the Lumiere bid, according to project sources.
One said: 'The tender documents were sent out a couple of weeks ago but they were sent back to the client almost immediately by Multiplex. It's a strange situation.
Multiplex has been talking to the client for a couple of years about the project and must have known that they would have been competing with other firms.
'That said, it doesn't mean the client is left without options. Laing O'Rourke brings its specialist concrete frame experience to the table while Carillion has already built one tower scheme with Ian Simpson Architects in Manchester. There is still going to be healthy competition.'
Bids are due back at the beginning of April with a winner expected to be chosen by May. Depending on when planning is granted the developer hopes to start on site by the autumn. The towers will take around three and a half years to build.
Elsewhere in the city a surprise contender has knocked out rival bids for a second KW Linfoot scheme.
Ocon, the construction division of Manchester developer Opal, has scooped a £45 million deal to build a new residential scheme for the developer at Manor Mills.
The firm saw off competition from David McLean and Carillion for the project to build 280 apartments which feature designs by French designer Philippe Starck.
Work will start on site in May.