City firm sells off student flats in £26.5m deal


Lancaster family firm CityBlock has sold its student apartment blocks in a deal worth £26.5m.

The deal with investment group Empiric Student Property, which also includes two accommodation blocks in Leicester, means CityBlock will continue to manage the sites on behalf of Empiric.



The Lancaster portfolio comprises three blocks; CityBlock 1 has 30 beds, CityBlock 2 has 77 beds and CityBlock 3 has 100 beds.

The deal is due to be completed tomorrow, Friday, although students living in the properties will see no difference in the way they are run.

Empiric’s chief executive, Paul Hadaway said: “We are very pleased to have acquired this portfolio of five properties in Lancaster and Leicester, creating a very well-located, attractive and highly specified portfolio in two new top university cities for the group.

“The tenant mix at the properties, which have an excellent occupancy track record, reflects the group’s target market of international and post-graduate students.

“The acquisition of this portfolio represents an efficient deployment of equity capital in one transaction.

“The acquisition is in line with Empiric’s investment criteria and returns profile.”

“These highly desirable properties fit Empiric’s portfolio perfectly and we are extremely pleased that CityBlock will continue to manage and operate the properties.”

CityBlock owner Trevor Bargh said: “We are delighted to have found an excellent collaboration partner in Empiric and we look forward to working with them to secure our growth objectives in this exciting sector.”

CityBlock 1, which was constructed in 2003 on the corner of Penny Street and George Street, is a low-rise, multi-storey block which provides a total of 30 beds comprising 30 en-suite bedrooms with shared kitchen and communal areas. There is also a ground floor retail unit.

CityBlock 2, built in 2004 in penny Street, is a low-rise, multi-storey block which provides a total of 77 beds comprising 52 en-suite bedrooms with shared kitchen and communal areas and 25 studios.

There are also two retail units that are let to Cartridge World and Subway on the ground floor level.

CityBlock 3 was built in Penny Street in 2012, and is a low-rise, multi-storey block which provides a total of 100 beds comprising 57 en-suite bedrooms with shared kitchen and communal areas, 10 studios and 33 en-suite beds in five townhouses.

There is a retail unit let to Sainsbury on the ground floor.

Lancaster has a student population of around 22,700, of which approximately 25 per cent are post-graduate and 25 per cent international.

All of the properties were fully let for the 2014/15 academic year, with 62 per cent of the rooms pre-let for 

The Leicester portfolio comprises two connected buildings next to De Montfort University, with a total of 174­beds.

Empiric also recently bought student accommodation in Durham and Huddersfield in deals worth £5.1m and £11 million respectively.