Lincoln College has completed the latest step in its project to expand city-centre student accommodation, acquiring the highly coveted property of 120-121 High Street.
The 19th century grade II listed building, located on the corner of High Street and Alfred Street, is currently occupied by NatWest and Coutts bank. Both businesses are expected to remain open and operational, whilst a vacant 8,100sqft extension to the rear of the building is redeveloped as accommodation for Lincoln students.
Whilst the exact value of the property deal has not been officially disclosed, Lincoln College have reportedly spent almost £5.7 million on acquiring the building. Competition for the property is believed to have been fierce since the address was originally listed in 2012 with an advertised price of £4.5 million.
Lincoln confirmed their successful purchase of the property early last week, after two rounds of bidding behind closed doors. NatWest and Coutts bank, the current tenants, are expected to lease the street-side portion of the 21,000sqft property from the college.
Tim Knowles, Lincoln College bursar, said, “The current tenants will remain there for the foreseeable future. Our original expectation was that we would convert it into student accommodation, and that still remains the most likely outcome… It is probably reasonable to say that the college has been looking at that building for some considerable time and we were keen to acquire it. It completes the college’s ownership of that block on High Street.”
Other recent acquisitions by Lincoln include existing student accommodation on Walton Street. In light of this, Mr Knowles said that the college is drawing up plans to ensure it did not end up with an accommodation surplus, saying that “we are considering a number of other options. It makes commercial sense for us to buy the building.”
A decision on the fate of the property is expected to be made in the next few months, whilst any potential refurbishment is intended to be completed by the end of this year.
Rachel Jeal, Lincoln JCR President, spoke to Cherwell about the plans for redevelopment. She said, “It is a valuable asset for the college and may provide future opportunities for Lincoln as well as granting another level of flexibility regarding both accommodation and teaching space.
“Whilst at present everyone in the JCR who desires accommodation can be housed in college-owned accommodation, the NatWest building may be a valuable asset in order to house more post-graduates, allowing Lincoln to create a greater sense of a college community.”