Belfast set for €23m student accommodation and retail scheme

Site at Bradbury Place is the first acquisition in Northern Ireland for Elkstone Partners

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A £20 million (€23 million) purpose-built student accommodation and retail scheme is to be developed in Belfast following the acquisition of a site by Dublin-based Elkstone Partners.

The site at 30-44 Bradbury Place is the first acquisition in Northern Ireland for the property division of the investment firm.

Development of the site will generate an additional 156 student beds for the 2022/2023 academic year, as well as 362sq m (3,900sq ft) of ground-floor retail space fronting on to a heavy-footfall area of the city.

Ciarán McIntyre, chief commercial officer at Elkstone Partners, said Bradbury Place was an “exciting project to mark our entrance to the Northern Ireland market with a significant investment of international capital”.

“Our focus is to proactively assist our clients in selecting investment prospects that are directly tailored to their individual needs, and we will be seeking further investment opportunities in the North,” he said.

“Purpose-built student accommodation continues to be a fast-growing sector, and having seen activity surge across Ireland and the UK in recent years, we identified Bradbury Place as an opportunity to develop this market in Northern Ireland.

Commercial space

“The development of this site, which will be ready to welcome students for the autumn 2022 term, will significantly enhance the student accommodation offering in Belfast, particularly in the popular Queen’s Quarter of the city.

Mr McIntyre said the commercial space on the ground floor “also presents an excellent opportunity for a retailer keen to capitalise on the increased footfall expected from the regeneration of this streetscape”.

Elkstone has been involved in the planning, construction and operation of more than 2,000 beds across the UK and the Republic.

Founded a decade ago by Alan Merriman, a former partner with PwC and ex finance director of ESB, the wealth management group describes itself as Ireland’s leading multi-family office.

The scheme at Bradbury Place, located close to Queen’s University, has received planning permission from Belfast City Council for 100 cluster and 56 studio beds over six floors, and will ramp up the student accommodation offering in the city with a number of facilities and amenities.

“Purpose-built student accommodation has been a key strand of our real estate investment strategy for a number of years, and with clear demand for such accommodation in Belfast we are certainly keen to explore further opportunities,” Mr McIntyre added.