UTAS buys Hobart hotel to house students

The Fountainside in Hobart has been purchased by the University of Tasmania.

A hotel in Hobart’s CBD will be transformed into student accommodation after the budget travellers’ favourite was bought by the University of Tasmania for an undisclosed sum.

Staff at Fountainside Hotel were called to a meeting today and told the property had been bought by the university at market value.

It is understood that UTAS approached the owners of the 49-room CBD property earlier this month with a purchase offer after copping criticism for its inability to house many of its returning students.

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Hotel staff were called to the meeting this week and a relative of a staff member called the Mercury shortly after.

People in residential accommodation had been encouraged to look online for a room because the university had received more applications than it could service with its existing 1100 beds.

The purchase of Fountainside and the construction of demountable buildings at UTAS’s Sandy Bay campus will help add an extra 300 student beds to the university’s Hobart portfolio.

UTAS last week received applause from the student union for responding to students’ needs but the tourism sector has reacted to today’s news with disappointment.

Tourism Industry Council Tasmania chief executive Luke Martin says it is time UTAS considered a “more sustainable solution” to student accommodation requirements than buying CBD hotels.

The institution has previously bought MidCity Hotel and the Theatre Royal Hotel.

“You don’t begrudge any property owner divesting their asset, especially in such a buoyant market, but it is disappointing to see such a prominent hotel lost to the sector,” Martin says.

“Hopefully the workforce is absorbed into other positions across the sector.”

This article from The Mercury originally appeared as “University of Tasmania buys Hobart CBD’s Fountainside hotel for student accommodation”.