University of Wollongong to sell International House, Weerona College and Marketview residences

Developers, investors showing early interest in sale of university accommodation

The sale of the University of Wollongong's "prime real estate assets" is expected to attract developers and investors on a national and international scale - and some have already shown interest.

The University of Wollongong announced this week that it will sell three of its student accommodation properties in an effort to fight the financial challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

UOW's International House, Weerona College and Marketview residences will be offered for sale from mid-August with the transaction expected to be completed by early 2022.

Knight Frank agent Ben Mostyn, who is marketing the properties said even though the campaign doesn't officially launch until next week there had been early interest from investors and developers both locally and nationally.

He said interest had also come from "occupiers looking for this opportunity to try and secure some sort of tenure with the assets to provide affordable housing".

"We expect to sell these assets either in one line, or individually, depending on the interest," he said.

"I would expect this will be one of the busier campaigns we work on this year, given the level of interest in the residential market, and the pressures that the residential market is currently facing.

"COVID-19 has really driven residential demand. There's a huge demand and limited development sites that are available."

Mr Mostyn said he expected there would be strong demand for the assets from both overseas and domestic buyers, as Wollongong was one of Australia's best performing residential markets that was becoming more attractive to investors, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.

"The properties are all well-located quality assets with the added benefit of offering upside through development potential," he said.

Mr Mostyn said there wasn't a price guide available for the properties yet, with the EOI campaign to gauge interest.

"But we do think they will reset the benchmark in terms of values in development sites in the region, given the size of them, and the quality and locations they're in," he said.

IN OTHER NEWS:

This news follows the University of Technology Sydney announcing earlier this year that it is selling its Sydney student accommodation portfolio, which includes three student accommodation assets with 428 beds.

UOW chief operating officer Damien Israel said with sufficient capacity available in their on campus residences to meet foreseeable demand, it made sense to release these "prime real estate assets" onto the local market so new owners can "put them to good use when there is a growing demand for well-located housing, hotel accommodation and community facilities".

"Once acquired by new owners, these properties have potential to yield significant benefits for the local economy and community," Mr Israel said.

The first round of expressions of interest closes in mid-September.

The sites for sale

The Marketview building, which operated as a hotel before being acquired by UOW in 2011 is located within Wollongong's CBD, south of Sydney.

International House is located on a one-hectare site in a residential area adjacent to North Wollongong Railway Station.

Weerona College is surrounded by the Beaton Park sports complex and located between the CBD, West Wollongong and Gwynneville Village.

International House and Weerona College have not operated as student residences since late last year when COVID-19 travel restrictions prevented the return of international students, forcing their closure.

Marketview, which has continued to operate with a lower occupancy rate during 2021 compared to previous years, will close only after current residents' tenancy contracts expire in January 2022.

This story Developers, investors showing early interest in sale of university accommodation first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.