Designed by architects Mecanoo and shedkm, the Kampus development is centred around a wild botanical garden at Aytoun Street.
Phase one of the new quarter will include nearly 500 private rented flats across two 12-16 storey buildings with retail and leisure at ground floor level.
The project also includes refurbishment of the existing 1960s former Aytoun Tower with the addition of a roof village of timber Dutch townhouses.
The joint venture partners acquired the 2.3 acre Kampus development site from Manchester Metropolitan University in 2014.
Phase two of the scheme involves the conversion of the two listed Minshull and Minto & Turner mill buildings.
Demolition work on most of the existing campus is expected to start in the autumn, with the first apartments due to be ready in 2019.
Adam Higgins of Capital & Centric said: “We have worked closely with Manchester city council and importantly, the local community to create this exciting scheme, which will rejuvenate this area of our city that has been neglected for too long.
“The ‘secret garden’ concept is pivotal to our vision to create a vibrant new bohemian destination for the city.”