New homes for students

5:00 AM Saturday March 7, 2015 Colin Taylor

An artist’s impression of 5 Whitaker Place, Auckland CBD.

Two high quality student accommodation buildings now under construction in the hub of Auckland’s education precinct are being marketed for sale on behalf of urban lifestyle property developers Tasman Cook.

The properties at 5 Whitaker Place and 121 Grafton Road are being sold via an international expression of interest campaign run by JLL and closing on Friday April 24.

The two buildings are being jointly marketed as a portfolio, or as individual properties, by Andrew Brown, investment sales director for JLL New Zealand and Conal Newland, national director of student accommodations services for JLL Australia.  

Brown says completion of the two developments is expected by the end of this year to allow students to move in at the commencement of the 2016 academic year. 

“At present, there is a very limited supply of high quality purpose-built student accommodation in and around Auckland’s CBD,” he says. “Existing student accommodation is predominately of a very modest quality and provides limited operational services or pastoral care for students.”

Brown says the rapid rise of international student numbers into Auckland over the past 10 years and a perennial scarcity of premium student accommodation, presents an excellent opportunity for investors to gain a significant foothold in the Auckland institutional property market and access strong exposure to an emerging global asset class.

He cites Statistics New Zealand figures stating that the volume of student arrivals into New Zealand, “mainly driven to Auckland”, has jumped from 15,398 in 2013 to 22,863 in 2014.

True Commercial - 121 Grafton Road - corner view - artist's impression.jpg

Artist’s impression of 121 Grafton Road, Auckland CBD.

“This is a 48 per cent year on year increase and these numbers are expected to continue to grow,” Brown says.

“The major source of international students to Auckland is Asian countries and students coming from these large cities in Asia Pacific are accustomed with living in high-quality, space efficient apartments, near or adjacent to their university. These newly constructed premium student residences will be an ideal accommodation solution for young people who have grown up in densely populated urban environments.”

Newland, a student accommodation specialist who has been involved in numerous successful student accommodation developments in Australia and the UK, says there is currently a gap in Auckland in the supply of accommodation to students for good quality purpose built facilities that are professionally managed.

“These new developments are finally meeting an acute need in the market and will have a positive effect in alleviating the shortage,” Newland says. “The design of these accommodation properties with extensive communal areas will enhance the quality of purpose built accommodation in Auckland. Both are located within easy walking distance of the universities allowing student tenant’s easy access to academic facilities and amenities in the CBD. We expect them to create a focal point for student activities.”

Whitaker Place, known for its student accommodation, is located close to both the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology (AUT) - the two major tertiary educational providers in Auckland.

Previously a five storey commercial office block, the 5 Whitaker Place building will contain 300 studio apartments. Communal facilities will include a lounge, study, kitchen, dining room, games room, theatre and a gym together with basement car parking. The complex will be diamond shaped with two lifts and a stairwell near the centre of the building, with the bedrooms to the perimeter. Bedrooms in the elevated levels will provide views over the CBD and towards Rangitoto Island.

121 Grafton Rd - interior courtyard - artist's impression.jpg

Courtyard within 121 Grafton Rd student complex – artist’s impression. 

The Grafton Crossing student apartment development is located opposite a hall of residence occupied by the University of Auckland near Auckland Hospital, Starship Children’s Hospital and the University of Auckland Grafton Campus - home to the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. The University of Auckland City Campus and AUT’s city campus are a short distance away via the Grafton Bridge and provide strong demand for accommodation in the area.

“In the long-term, Grafton Crossing will take advantage of the Mixed Use zoned campus that is planned for the 5.2 ha former Lion Breweries site in Newmarket, which enhances the strategic appeal of the location and is expected to be attended by several thousands of students,” says Brown.

Previously the Auckland Grafton Oaks Hotel, the new Grafton Crossing student accommodation development will encompass 395 studio apartments with views over the Hauraki Gulf and Rangitoto Island. The building will be U-shaped with communal lounge, study, kitchen, gym with a café on the ground floor. The main lounge will have bi-folding doors providing access to a secure central court yard which will include landscaped spaces and BBQ facilities. There will also be two retail units for lease fronting Grafton Road plus a courtyard cafe. 

Both of the new properties will be professional managed by UniLodge which is a market leader in the operation and management of student accommodation in both Australia and New Zealand – specialising in ensuring a safe and secure environment for residents.

 “Student accommodation is a newly emerging property asset class within New Zealand,” Newland says. “It is attracting an increasing amount of investment appetite from within New Zealand and from overseas investors who are seeking to explore early investment into the student accommodation market.”

He says it is the strong and growing demand for student accommodation and primarily from overseas students that has attracted new investment entrants into the sector along with experienced global investors who have recognised the importance of Australia and New Zealand as solid growth markets.

Andrew Brown_&_Conal Newland together.jpg

Andrew Brown, investment sales director for JLL New Zealand (left) & Conal Newland, national director of student accommodations services for JLL Australia (right).