Prime Living to build 700-bed student complex in Sandyford

Swedish company sees opportunity in housing crisis with €10.3m purchase of 2-acre site

Swedish student accommodation provider Prime Living has emerged as the purchaser of a site at the junction of Blackthorn Road and Carmanhall Road in Sandyford, south Dublin. Prime Living expects to develop a student complex with about 700 bed spaces and estimates that its overall investment will be about €31.5 million, including €10.3 million on the cost of the site.

UK developer U+I paid just €6.5 million for the 0.73-hectare (1.8-acre) site in 2015 and put it on the market earlier this year for €10 million-plus.

The site was sold with the benefit of planning permission for 147 apartments, a creche, cafe, gym and 151 car parking spaces.

Prime Living’s emergence as the buyer is something of a surprise, given that the existing planning permission is likely to be of little value to it, save for acting as a positive planning precedent for a new large-scale development. A number of local developers believed to have expressed interested in the site were apparently outbid by Prime Living Sandyford, a newly formed investment vehicle.


The site is located about 3km from UCD and just a five-minute walk from two Luas stations, affording easy access to Trinity College, RCSI and DIT.

The project, Prime Living's second investment in Ireland, is a joint venture with Cara Cove Holding, a company linked to Sweden-based Ian McGlinchey, who owns a chain of Irish pubs abroad. Prime Living holds a 70 per cent share in the venture and Cara Cove the remaining 30 per cent.

The joint venture intends to target further student housing development opportunities in Ireland and the UK. Their first acquisition together earlier this year was a 0.33-hectare (0.82 acre) development site in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, where they have plans to construct about 136 bed spaces.

The Sandyford site sale highlights the continued appetite among local and international operators for purpose-built student accommodation in Dublin as a result of the capital’s well-publicised housing shortage.

A recent Dublin City Council study estimates a shortfall of 16,000-18,000 student bed spaces, and major players such as Hines and Global Student Accommodation have vied to cater to that demand with large complexes.

The Sandyford deal suggests Dublin’s student housing development boom is expanding to more suburban locations.

Numerous developers are rumoured to be weighing up building student accommodation on sites in similar well-connected suburban locations.

In Stillorgan, on the former Blakes and Esmonde Motors sites, Cairn Homes has submitted a consultation application to An Bord Pleanála for a scheme to include 598 student bed spaces along with 103 homes, a community sports hall and retail space.

The scale of the project means that Cairn can apply directly to An Bord Pleanála under recently enacted fast-track planning provisions, enabling the publicly quoted developer to bypass making an application to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.