Blue Sky and Goldman to build Australian student housing

The country’s green financier is providing $26m towards energy efficiency measures for the new accommodation.

Blue Sky, the Australian alternative investment manager, and Goldman Sachs will develop a 428-bed student accommodation project in Adelaide, with funding to incorporate energy efficiency measures.

Atira Student Living, a specialist student accommodation provider jointly owned by Goldman Sachs and Blue Sky’s private real estate arm, will build and manage the project when it opens in February 2018. The off-campus, purpose-built student complex, called Waymouth Street, is within walking distance of campuses for both the University of South Australia and the University of Adelaide.

The investment aims to meet the rising demand for student accommodation in Adelaide, according to Nick Singleton, investment director of Blue Sky Private Real Estate. A 2016 Savills market report noted that the city has more than 65,000 full-time higher education students, while only 5,371 beds were provided by universities and commercial operators in purpose-built student complexes. 

Atira has a target to acquire, develop and operate up to 10,000 purpose-built student beds across Australia and New Zealand – making up a property portfolio of about $1.5 billion. 

The Waymouth Street project has also secured A$32 million ($25.5 million; €21.5 million) of debt from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, to incorporate clean energy technology in the project’s planning and construction phases. The Australian green financier said it has committed more than A$600 million to the property sector with support to applications of energy efficiency technologies.

The finance will help the development achieve a minimum 25 percent improvement on energy efficiency compared with business as usual, said Chris Wade, head of CEFC’s property division. 

“We’re demonstrating to property developers, owners, and managers that constructing the next generation of energy efficient student accommodation can be rewarded with long-term operational savings and an improved amenity, which makes a strong business case for the additional upfront investment,” he said.