Clearbell acquires Southampton student residence from Optivo

Clearbell Property Partners III LP (Clearbell), a fund managed by Clearbell Capital LLP, has acquired the Lucia Foster Welch student residence in Southampton from housing association Optivo.

Optivo acquired the 800-room Ocean Village site, named after Southampton’s first female mayor, in 1995 on a 25-year deal with Solent University. Now the contract with the university has come to a natural end, and Optivo has made the decision to consolidate their student offering in London and Eastbourne.

Clearbell will work together with property consultancy Iceni Property Asset Management, whose brand Every Student will be responsible for the building’s operations and management.

The 25-year-old building will be fully refurbished to provide both comfortable and affordable accommodation for students. This will consist of replacing mechanical and electrical equipment such as lifts, and repairing and enhancing bathrooms and interior fittings, all of which will ensure the building is fully COVID-19 secure. Completion is expected in summer 2021, with the full letting of the building to follow in September 2021.

Rob Mills, Partner at Clearbell Capital and the project lead, said:

“Southampton is a vibrant and energetic student city, and Lucia Foster Welch is in the perfect spot for students. Whilst many students continue to study remotely and live at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe by September 2021 there should be a greater influx of students into Southampton who will benefit from a modern, secure and affordable place to live.”

Tom Paul, Director of Treasury and Commercial at Optivo, said:

“The deal with Solent has now come to its natural end, and the site needs reinvestment. This strategic disposal consolidates our direct let student accommodation business in London, where demand is strongest and where we benefit from operational and marketing synergies. The proceeds of the disposal support our investment into new social housing and refurbishment works planned and underway at our other student accommodation sites.”

Matthew McAdden, Founding Director and CEO at Iceni Property Asset Management said:

“We are delighted to have launched Every Student, working in partnership with Clearbell.  Our focus will be on delivering quality, affordably-priced accommodation, and on the wellbeing of our student customers.”  Lucia Foster Welch is ideally situated with Southampton Solent University’s main campus just a 15-minute walk away, and the city’s Ocean Village leisure development on the doorstep.

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