Round Hill Capital and NBK Capital acquire Cork student accommodation development site

Round Hill Capital, a leading global real estate investment, development and asset management firm, announces that funds advised by Round Hill Capital and NBK Capital have acquired a 1.5 acre freehold site on Bandon Road, Cork for €10.3m. The site has full planning permission for a 412-bed student accommodation development, with additional opportunity for an adjoining site offering a further 142 beds, subject to planning.

The Bandon Road development is exceptionally well-located for access and transport links and within a five-minute walk to University College Cork, Cork Institute of Technology and Cork city centre. The project has a gross development cost of €83m and is the fourth investment Round Hill Capital has made in the student accommodation sector as part of its joint venture with NBK Capital, taking its current portfolio to almost 1,350 beds under development.

The deal reflects the opportunities Round Hill Capital sees for achieving attractive investment returns from student accommodation projects across European and US markets. Round Hill Capital has identified strong institutional investor appetite for all accommodation sectors in the current climate in light of the resilience of theses as long term investments. Round Hill Capital expects to deploy new capital into other new residential housing projects including student accommodation, multifamily and retirement living in the near future.

This is Round Hill Capital’s fourth student accommodation investment in Ireland and, in partnership with NBK Capital, it plans further acquisitions to develop a 2,000+ bed student accommodation portfolio. Bandon Road will be ready for occupation in September 2022 and in time for the 2022/23 academic year. The main site is formerly a joinery warehouse prior to demolition taking place on site.

The project will deliver much-needed student accommodation into the Cork student housing market, which has a significant supply/demand imbalance. Cork is home to 15% of Ireland’s student population, with 25,617 full time students in the city, but dedicated student accommodation available for less than 20% of that population*, leaving students reliant on the broader private rented sector.

The development will benefit from a modern design and layout by O’Mahony Pike architects. It will provide residents with high quality services and amenities, including an open plan and welcoming reception, private dining room, gym/wellness room, study and games areas, laundry, bike storage, 24-hour security, 200Mbps Wi-Fi, year-round events programmes and significant new landscaped outdoor spaces.

Nido Student will manage the development, an established operational platform and brand for European student accommodation. Nido provides a home, lifestyle and high quality living experience which supports students’ success and helps to build a real community. Nido currently operates 15 student residences in the UK with over 5,000 beds.

Michael Bickford, Founder and CEO at Round Hill Capital, said: “Round Hill Capital has an 18-year track record of successfully investing in, developing and operating student accommodation and residential housing assets across Europe and we are pleased to have acquired this prime 412-bed purpose-built student accommodation development project in Cork, Ireland. This development is exceptionally well-located, within a five-minute walk to University College Cork, and close to Cork city centre. We appreciate that areas of the student and residential housing markets in Ireland suffer from structural supply and demand imbalances and we look forward to helping alleviate these pressures and further expanding Round Hill Capital’s business in Ireland and across Europe.”

John Vaudin, Managing Director at Round Hill Capital (Ireland), said: “There is a critical need for more purpose-built student accommodation in the Irish market and this development in Cork will help to meet that need. We have designed an attractive and modern building with high quality services and amenities that will regenerate a disused site into a vibrant home for students. Round Hill Capital has significant capital to deploy into its strong and growing pipeline of investment opportunities in the purpose-built student accommodation and build-to-rent and sectors in Ireland.”

Faisal Al-Hamad, CEO of NBK Capital, said: “NBK Capital is pleased to continue to partner with Round Hill Capital to fund student accommodation developments in Ireland.  Cork is an attractive city with high quality third-level education institutes, and we are delighted to be able to play a part in contributing to the city’s redevelopment and providing much needed student accommodation.”

Round Hill Capital’s other existing investments in Cork include a 145 bed development on Farranlea Road and a 275-bed development at Washington Street in the heart of the city. Round Hill Capital also acquired a 368-bed development in The Liberties in Dublin earlier this year.

The Farranlea Road scheme is now called Curraheen Point which recently achieved practical completion with the first students now in occupation. Development facilities include 24-hour security, bike storage, 200Mbps WiFi and year-round events for residents.

A comprehensive range of measures have been introduced to manage COVID-19 related risks at Curraheen Point including increased cleaning regimes, hand sanitiser stations throughout the building, plenty of signage to encourage social distancing, limits to the number of residents using social spaces, provision of facemasks for all staff members and students and the installation of Perspex screens in reception and study spaces.

Viewings of the residence are able to be held virtually, or if done in person, visitors are asked to wear face coverings, and the show flat is cleaned before and after each viewing. Nido was also the first to introduce a virtual events programme in the PBSA sector and has also produced a series of commitments to its students in response to COVID-19 to ensure the safety of residents and staff is always prioritised.