The number of students beds will nearly triple at Whitley College in Parkville after private British operator GSA redevelops the site.
GSA, which paid $20 million for the college last year, takes possession of the property at the end of the 2017 academic year.
GSA’s n head of real estate, Jon Whittle, said the doughnut-shaped building designed by Mockridge Stahle & Mitchell in 1961 would be kept.
“We are retaining the doughnut – what some people call the drum – but we are re-developing the remainder of the land,” Mr Whittle told BusinessDay.
“There will be two new floors built on top of the rear of the drum and a terrace at the front overlooking Princes Park,” he said.
“At the back there is a building constructed a lot later than the drum which we want to knock down and replace with a new six-level building.”
The new college – as yet unnamed – will have 367 beds, nearly triple the original college’s 130-bed offering.
Much of Melbourne’s new student accommodation has been concentrated in Carlton, North Melbourne and the CBD. This new wave is closer to Parkville’s traditional colleges.
GSA’s project at 271 Royal Parade is just two buildings away from the University of Melbourne’s new accommodation project at the old Salvation Army hostel at No. 303-309.
The university is retrofitting an 11-storey building it bought from the Salvos in 2014 and building a six-storey extension at the rear. It will provide 332 beds over 141 rooms and is due to open in 2019.
The university is aiming to have 6000 beds within walking distance of the Parkville campus by 2020.
About 40,000 new student accommodation projects are either under construction or in development around and competition is getting intense, particularly in Melbourne, where more than half of all projects are centred.
Research from the Department of Education and Training shows the number of international students in grew 11 per cent last year to 554,179 with Victorian students comprising more than one-third of the total.
Players include Atira – a joint venture between Goldman Sachs and listed Blue Sky; Scape, which has a $1 billion pipeline; and South Africa’s Redefine Properties, which is planning a 700-bed facility on the old headquarters of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union at 500 Swanston Street.
GSA quit the n market in 2015 only to return last year joining forces with Mr Whittle, who was bullish about the sector.
“There’s a lot of action and Melbourne is a place where it is justified. It’s one of the primary international student destinations and will continue to be,” he said.
There could be a shake-up in the sector once the new swag of buildings were up and operating, he warned.
“A lot of people are coming into the market who haven’t operated a single bed yet,” he said.
GSA has two other projects in its pipeline. A 353-bed 13-level tower at Pelham Street is under construction and works at a 322-bed facility at 684-688 Elizabeth Street are about to get under way.
“We are fairly active at the moment and we’ve got to make sure these sites work,” Mr Whittle said. But that busy workbook will not put them off taking on more projects.
“If a location comes up that’s good for us, we will pursue it.”