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University of Tasmania to repurpose existing building for student beds

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The University of Tasmania will repurpose an existing building on Sandy Bay to meet demand for student accommodation.

The refit of the old Commerce Building, off French Street, would accommodate 170 students, making up a gap caused by a delay in the 180-bed expansion at Sandy Bay, which will not be ready until the second half of 2019.

The Sandy Bay expansion, using quality, prefabricated accommodation, was part of a range of measures announced in December 2018 to deliver 300 new beds for the Hobart student accommodation pool.

Spokesperson Jason Purdie said students returning to study in 2019 and those from elsewhere in Tasmania had already been offered a bed if they had applied for one. The University was now working to accommodate intending interstate and international students.

A range of measures had been considered, including the use of a floating hotel (‘flotel’), but the option was ruled out after talks with key stakeholders.

In recent years, the University of Tasmania has been forecasting and matching growing student demand for accommodation; well on the way to increasing the number of Hobart beds almost three-fold to 1,500*.

In late 2018, a gap in available accommodation emerged due to an unprecedented combination of an:

  • historically tight housing market,
  • increased student demand and
  • drop in turnover from the University’s largest southern property, the Hobart City Apartments.

The measures now under consideration are designed to fill the gap until a new 421-bed Melville St complex is delivered in 2021.

* The University is well on track to trebling available student beds in Hobart to 1500 in recent years:

  • The opening of the 440-bed Hobart City Apartments in 2017, funded through the Australian Government’s National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS);
  • Acquisition of the MidCity Apartments in 2018;
  • The acquisition of a new inner-city property which will provide 99 beds (The Fountainside Hotel);
  • Work to create a further 21 beds at the MidCity Apartments;
  • Renovations at the Theatre Royal Hotel, which will add 16 new beds;
  • The 180-bed expansion of student colleges the Sandy Bay campus, now forecast for delivery for Semester 2;
  • Delivery of the new 421-bed Melville Street development due in 2021.

Source: UTAS

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