Wee Hur Lodges Plans for Another Sydney Student Tower


Listed Singaporean developer Wee Hur has lodged plans for another student accommodation project in the inner Sydney suburb of Redfern, following the approval of a $64 million development on a neighbouring site late last month.

Its latest proposal is for a $51 million tower, located between 90 and 102 Regent Street, and is expected to provide 408 beds for students across single and double room formats.

The proposed 18-storey tower will provide residential accommodation from level three up, with communal student spaces on the ground and second floors.

The developer has also planned a number of amenities with are three rooftop terraces, an outdoor cinema, BBQ facilities and seating all featured in the building’s design.

The application marks a quick turn around for Wee Hur, which acquired the amalgamated 1,287sq m site in June for $46 million across two transactions.

▲ Wee Hur is in the process of building more than 5,700 “purpose-built student accommodation” beds across Australia. Image: Allen Jack+Cottier Architects
▲ Wee Hur is in the process of building more than 5,700 “purpose-built student accommodation” beds across Australia. Image: Allen Jack+Cottier Architects

The site, which adjoins two other Redfern properties which are already owned by Wee Hur, neighbours a proposed 18-storey mixed-use student accommodation development at 13-23 Gibbons Street, which will comprise 515-rooms and ground-level retail.

Wee Hur paid $52 million for the Gibbons Street site, currently occupied by an ageing office block, in 2018.

The developer also has plans for a 1,366sq m site at 104-116 Regent Street which had been owned by BP Australia, after outlaying $46.1 million earlier this month through Wee Hur’s Australian investment manager Intergen Property Group.

The inner city suburb of Redfern is easy walking distance to both the University of Sydney and University of Technology Sydney.

From 2024 it will have a second train station at Waterloo as part of the Sydney Metro project.

Both developments come at a challenging time for the once-booming student accommodation sector, as international borders remain shut.

Prior to the pandemic, education sat as Australia’s third largest export, with 693,750 international students contributing to the country’s education industry, generating over $30 billion annually.

Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) operators were reporting near-record occupancies leading into the 2020 academic year.

As of November, the PBSA sector’s vacancy rate is currently hovering around 50 per cent.

Longer term, Australia’s better management of the pandemic and its relatively low infection numbers is expected to give the tertiary education sector the edge over other international study destinations.

A rise in domestic enrolments is also expected to fuel a rise in the take-up of student accommodation in coming years.

Wee Hur’s second Redfern application follows the acquisition of two new sites within Brisbane’s Buranda transport precinct near Woolloongabba from the Queensland government in March.

Wee Hur also struck an option agreement to acquire a third site next to the Buranda train station.

In Melbourne the group is building a 47-storey complex with 888 beds, due to be completed late next year.

Wee Hur has two student accommodation properties already in operation in Australia, the 1,578-bed Unilodge Park Central in Brisbane and the 772-bed Unilodge City Gardens in Gray Street in Adelaide.

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