London firm enters boom for city student properties

27 March 2015

A LONDON-based property and investment firm headed by a former executive with private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts is the latest in a slew of international companies targeting the burgeoning student accommodation market in Dublin.

Hattington Capital, a boutique firm that is involved in private equity deals and real estate, is planning a €25m project to build a development with almost 250 accommodation units on the site of the landmark Frawley’s store on Thomas Street in the capital.

It’s the company’s first foray into the student accommodation market either in Ireland or the UK. Hattington is understood to be on the lookout for additional sites in Dublin.

There are 80,000 full-time students in Dublin and another 100,000 language students.

The site on Thomas Street was once owned by developer Liam Carroll. It’s believed that Hattington bought the site from the receiver for around €2.5m.

Frawley’s closed in 2007 after more than a century of trading on the site.

A store was reopened under a different name at the site the following year by Sean Duffy, with the support of his son, Boyzone singer Keith Duffy.

Sean Duffy worked in the menswear department at Frawley’s for 30 years. The new shop remains operational but it’s thought it will have to move when development commences.

Hattington was founded by former Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) executive Frederick Goltz. Its executives also include Irishman John Harrington, a former associate partner at Harrington Bannon, now BNP Paribas Real Estate.

Former Tesco commercial director Barney Burgess is also involved in Hattington.

Hattington Capital’s student accommodation unit has just submitted a planning application to construct a 247-bedroom student accommodation premises on the Thomas Street site. When completed, it will be operated by an existing student- living firm.

The development will include the conservation and refurbishment of a number of the location’s existing buildings, as well as the construction of new buildings that will range in height from three to six storeys. It will include four retail units at the ground floor.

Hattington has also made other investments in Irish property.

In December, it acquired two units at the Galway Retail Park. Last September, it paid just over €6.5m for two adjoining office buildings at Citywest Business Park in west Dublin.

Hattington is just one of a number of firms that is targeting Dublin’s student accommodation sector.

Earlier this year, a company owned by Singapore-based Irish businessman Peter Mullins applied for planning permission to build a major scheme close to O’Connell Street.

In October, Dubai-based Global Student Accommodation (GSA), which specialises in building and managing student residences around the world, said it had joined up with The Creedon Group – an Irish construction firm – to build a €41m development close to St James’s Hospital in the capital.

GSA’s brands include Urbanest, which last year was denied permission from An Bord Pleanala for a €36m student accommodation scheme in Dublin.

However, Urbanest is now eyeing other opportunities in Ireland and the company has earmarked €250m to invest here.

Last year, Ziggurat Student Living confirmed it would open the former Montrose Hotel opposite UCD in Dublin as a student accommodation site.

London-based Knightsbridge Student Living, which is backed by US private equity giant Oaktree, has been developing a €40m student living scheme in conjunction with Bennett Construction at the Digital Hub.

Irish Independent