An answer to the student accommodation shortage

Auckland CBD site consented for a student accommodation tower

A CBD development site with resource consent for a 156-room student accommodation tower is for sale in the heart of Auckland’s learning quarter.

Colliers International CBD sales specialists Tony Allsop, Simon Felton and Adam White have been exclusively appointed to market the 453sq m freehold site at 75 Wakefield Street and 44 Airedale Street for sale by deadline private treaty.

Offers on the property - featured on colliersportfolio.nz - close at 4pm on Thursday 31 May, unless sold prior.

The site comprises the historic former Fitzroy Hotel, on the corner of Wakefield and Lyndock streets, and a vacant site at the corner of Airedale and Lyndock streets, currently used as a car park.

The consented development plan utilises the Fitzroy Hotel’s air rights to enable the construction of The Ashington – a 14-level student accommodation tower – on the adjoining vacant site.

Allsop says this level of build height is becoming increasingly rare for CBD sites of this size.

“This is an excellent opportunity for a developer or add-value investor to generate exposure to the rapidly emerging student accommodation sector, which is underpinned by strong demand,” he says.

“The mature United Kingdom market offers three times as much accommodation per student as New Zealand, which shows how much more room for growth there is domestically.”

Allsop says Auckland is home to New Zealand’s two largest universities, the University of Auckland and AUT University.

However, private rental accommodation in Auckland is now out of reach for many students, due to rising rents and undersupply.

“This has led to huge demand for purpose-built student accommodation – but there simply aren’t enough beds available.

“The University of Auckland offers one bed for every 10 students, while AUT University offers one bed for every 28 students.

“Auckland University reportedly has to turn away half its accommodation applicants due to a lack of rooms.”

Felton says the consent has been designed to maximise the site’s potential, occupying a prominent position in the heart of Auckland’s learning precinct.

“Purpose-built student accommodation is globally recognised as one of the fastest-growing asset classes, but the New Zealand market is relatively underdeveloped.

“The consented development site is perfectly positioned within the education precinct, being highly accessible to both of the major universities and a number of other tertiary providers.”

The site is close to other student accommodation buildings, including Auckland University’s 367-bed O’Rorke Hall and its new 343-student tower at the corner of Symonds and Wakefield streets.

Felton says that this location will benefit from several of Auckland’s current infrastructure projects.

“The wider Auckland CBD is undergoing a major urban transformation,” he says.

“The City Rail Link and proposed light rail along Dominion Road will help to reduce the need for cars in the CBD, which will obviously be beneficial for the local and foreign student population.

“Access to the suburbs has traditionally been a challenge for students based in the city, as the prohibitive cost of parking can discourage students from keeping a car locally.”

White says the dual-corner site, which predominantly faces northwest, occupies a full block of frontage to Lyndock Street.

“The three-storey former Fitzroy Hotel, constructed in 1854-55, is the oldest known brick building in the CBD,” he says.

“One of only three surviving hotels from Auckland’s early colonial history, it was listed as a Category 1 historic building in 2004. 

“The consented development plan would sensitively repurpose the historic building as a backpackers or short-stay accommodation, in keeping with its historic use as a hotel.

“The Ashington student accommodation building on the adjoining site would include a 253sq m ground floor lobby over a 224sq m lower ground floor.

“The tower’s 14 floors of student accommodation would have floor areas of between 207sq m to 248sq m, offering a total of 156 rooms.”

White says the site is zoned Business City Centre under the Auckland Unitary Plan.

“The zone permits the greatest height and intensity of development in Auckland,” he says.

“A range of uses are permitted including dwellings, visitor accommodation, entertainment facilities, offices, commercial services, conference facilities, retail, education and public amenities.”

White says opportunities to acquire consented CBD development sites are very rare.

“Serious developers and add-value investors will not want to miss this opportunity to invest in a globally emerging asset class.”

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