Melbourne University college on market for first time

Melbourne University’s Whitley College is on the market for the first time.

A Melbourne University college is on the market for the first time in its 51-year existence, and could be a target for residential developers.

Whitley College, which is one of 12 residential colleges at the Parkville university, is being sold after a strategic review of its operations recommended the sale of the college’s residential component.

Whitley College also comprises a Theological College, which allows students to complete religious-based studies. The Theological College is not for sale.

But selling agents JLL are expecting residential developers to be among the potential buyers for the 130-bed facility on tightly held Royal Parade.

2020 fears: Chronic student accommodation shortage to worsen

“We expect to receive strong interest from student accommodation operators and, given the large land holding and the prime location, we have no doubt residential developers will also be interested in such a significant property,” JLL sales and investments director James Kaufman says

“This is an extremely tightly held precinct. Only three properties in Royal Parade have been offered to the market in the past few years.”

“This is one of the last significant freehold parcels of land, totalling 4887 square metres in Parkville near the knowledge precinct.”

Whitley College sits on almost 4900sqm of prime land in Parkville.

Whitley College sits on almost 4900sqm of prime land in Parkville.

The sale of Whitley College comes amid reports of a chronic shortage of student accommodation in Australia, which is expected to worsen in the coming years.

Knight Frank research suggests there are currently 290,000 university students without access to purpose-built student accommodation. Compounding the issue, there are only 30,000 additional beds under construction or proposed to be built by 2020.

“By the end of 2020 … this ­national undersupply figure is projected to increase by 39% to 404,700 as the rate of full-time higher education student growth continues to outpace the development of beds, and the number of mobile students, as a proportion of the total, increases on trend,” Knight Frank researcher Paul Savitz says.

This is an extremely tightly held precinct. Only three properties in Royal Parade have been offered to the market in the past few years

JLL head of social infrastructure Noral Wild says Whitley College was ripe for expansion.

“The property is suitable for continuing use as student accommodation with the opportunity to further expand the accommodation through redevelopment. There is potential for other residential use.  The majority of the students living at Whitley are studying at Melbourne University which is only 900 metres away on Royal Parade,” Wild says.

“Parkville is a major draw card for international and interstate/rural students and has one of the largest student populations Melbourne.”