University puts Hobart hotels on the market

Originally purchased to provide much needed student accommodation at a time of acute housing stress, the University of Tasmania will this week put two Hobart CBD hotels up for sale.

The Mid City and Fountainside hotels were purchased in 2018 and 2019 respectively and provided accommodation for 174 students at their peak, enabling the University to meet student demand while a new 422-bed facility at 42 Melville Street – opened in 2021 – was under construction.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Student Services and Operations) Craig Barling said in a post-COVID world, the hotels were no longer required for student accommodation.

“These hotels played an important role in making sure we could continue to provide students with affordable accommodation options at a time when the housing market in Hobart was incredibly challenging and new, purpose-built facilities were still some years away,” Mr Barling said.

With the opening of the new facility in Melville Street, now known as Hytten Hall, the University has accommodation for more than 1500 students across the Hobart CBD and Sandy Bay. Currently at 78 percent occupancy, these beds are sufficient to meet expected demand and support a positive student experience.

The State Government has leased Fountainside since early 2020, initially to use in its COVID response and now as accommodation for health workers. Mid City was leased to Vision Hotels in late 2021 and operates as a commercial hotel.

Proceeds of the sale of the two hotels will be invested in upgrades of the University’s teaching, learning and research facilities, in particular the redevelopment of IMAS Taroona.

Education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics is critical to the future of Tasmania and these require high quality, contemporary facilities. Following significant upgrades in the North and North-West, jointly funded by the University and all three levels of government, there is a pressing need to renew STEM facilities in the South.

“The University of Tasmania is committed to providing our students, staff and the broader community with the best possible education and research supported by the best possible facilities,” Mr Barling said.

“We have a range of projects to do just this underway including Forestry, the Philip Smith Centre, and the Shed in Launceston, funded with support from government partners and through the issuance of Green Bonds.

“As we look to develop our STEM facilities in the South now the North is finishing, it is important we fund them in a way that supports our learning, research and access agendas through identifying surplus assets rather than diminishing our investments, which play a critical role in funding scholarships.”

The hotels will go on the market seeking expressions of interest on Thursday, 11 April.

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