Steel City Sheffield has 324 bedspaces. Credit: via ING

Buyer sought for 2,000-bed student living portfolio

Sheffield’s Steel City is among five freehold assets for which agent Harris Associates has been tasked with finding a buyer by Southern Grove and Tadhamon Capital.

The five Future Generation assets are described as each being in “chronically undersupplied student cities” – Nottingham, Guildford, Colchester and Loughborough are the other locations.

Harris Associates, a specialist in the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) field, said that all five assets represent a “rare opportunity to amass considerable scale in the PBSA sector, a marketplace with strong tailwinds and structural under-supply”.

Steel City has 324 bedspaces, with facilities including a sky lounge. It was Southern Grove’s first move into the student market.

The  unit mix across the portfolio covers cluster en-suites (66%), studios (24%), townhouses (6%), and one-to-three-bedroom apartments (4%).

At present, the portfolio boasts a blend of domestic (c.45%) and international (c.55%) student occupiers. The portfolio is expected to bring in a gross operating income of £20.7m in the academic year starting this month.

Jamie Harris, head of student accommodation at Harris Associates, said: “We are thrilled to introduce The Future Portfolio, a collection of the UK’s leading PBSA assets. Being at the forefront of marketing in the agency world,

“Harris Associates filmed videos at each location to showcase the assets to potential buyers, while speaking to student occupiers. There was unanimous positive feedback, focusing on the best-in-class design and specification, strong micro-locations and vibrant community events that these schemes offer.

“The Future portfolio is an opportunity to acquire a truly transformative portfolio and amass scale in key university cities with structural undersupplies. With its defensive mixture of clusters to studios, a portfolio of this nature is simply unable to be built again.”

Andrew Southern, chairman of Southern Grove, said: “The portfolio has been carefully crafted for the next generation of students – with comprehensive amenity spaces and consistent events for students.

“We are excited to have partnered with the best agent, Harris Associates, and commercial lawyers, Howard Kennedy to present our unique offering to the market.”

Since 2021, Harris Associates has undertaken more than £3bn in PBSA transactions, including the £1.5bn joint venture between Fusion Students and Cain International – the largest PBSA transaction in 2022. Other work includes the Lone Star purchase of 2,700 beds for £315m, EQT Exeter’s purchase of Great Court for £60m and the sale of Ten Traffic Street to Blackstone for £68.12m in March 2023.

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