600 student bed scheme planned for Cork

An artist’s impression of the student accommodation proposed for the former Coca Cola site on the Carrigrohane Road in Cork City.

Provision of Cork’s largest single student accommodation development, with 600 beds, is promised by a UK-based company, which has just taken over the moth-balled Coca Cola bottling plant by County Hall on the Carrigrohane Road.

In its first move into Ireland, UK-based firm Future Generation — a partnership involving the Southern Group with Bahrain-based financiers, via the Islamic bank-related Tadhamon Capital — has just confirmed its acquisition of the Cork site by the Lee Fields, close to UCC and CIT, “to create a flagship 600-bed student accommodation scheme”.

It says it aims to be on site by spring 2019 and could complete the project by the start of the 2021 academic year.

At the quoted 600 beds, it is considerably larger than any other scheme delivered or proposed in Cork City to date.

The brownfield Coca Cola bottling site has been unused since 2007. Planning was granted in May 2017 to the Gainstar Partnership Ltd for 484 bed spaces. Last month, Gainstar asked Cork City Council to allow amendments, reducing car parking spaces and adding extra bike parking.

Last night, in response to a query, a spokesperson acknowledged the move from 484 to 600 beds will need planning approval.

The location is across the Carrigrohane Road from the River Lee and the Kingsley Hotel and is next to the Curraheen river and just beyond new and further planned student accommodation sites on the Western Road and at Victoria Cross/Crows Nest.

Future Generation is a partnership between London-based Southern Grove and Tadhamon Capital. The latter is based in Bahrain and is a wing of the Yemen-founded Tadhamon International Islamic Bank, which invests under Muslim Shariah-compliant principles.

Future Generation is active on eight UK locations. This year it is completing a 300-bed project in Milan in Italy. It has also targeted Galway, Limerick, Prague, and Venice, to add to its British sites.

The Cork Coca Cola site acquisition “marks the start of a major European student accommodation development programme”, said Andrew Southern, chairman of Future Generation.

“Ireland is one of the fastest-growing destinations for international students in the EU and we are thrilled to kick-off our European development programme here in Cork,” said Mr Southern. “Our vision and plans for the cola factory will certainly put the fizz back into student housing in Cork.”

The investment for what it says will be “600 high-quality bedrooms, together with Future Generation’s signature sky lounge”, includes a technology tie-up partnership with Samsung which it says will provide air-con, appliances, wifi and virtual reality headsets.

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