THE team behind a £65m student development opposite Swansea railway station shook hands with council leader Rob Stewart to mark the formal start of the project.
The 17-storey building, with ground floor commercial space, will be home to 780 students from September 2021.
Demolition work has been carried out at the Mariner Street site, with parking spaces relocated to the top of the multi-storey car park on High Street.
The site is flanked by High Street and Dyfatty Street, and is considered to be a city centre gateway for motorists heading from the north as well as rail commuters.
Cllr Stewart said: “It’s hugely important for us in terms of High Street and the vibrancy we are trying to bring to the city. Having 780 students will really help that, and bring new businesses to the city centre.”
The Labour leader said private housing was also being developed in the city centre but that student schemes like Mariner Street would help meet the demand from Swansea’s two growing universities.
The privately-funded project is being developed by Fusion Students, with construction partner ISG and project management company Rhomco also on board.
The scheme has been completely revised from a previous version, which featured a 21-storey tower for 725 students but was felt to be commercially unviable.
Paul Miles, head of construction at Fusion Students, said: “We’ve got a completely new team on this. We’ve reduced the height (of the building) and made it more high-density.”
The accommodation will be a mix of apartments and studios, with all rooms en-suite. There will also be a gym, cinema and courtyard, and 20,000sq ft of commercial ground floor space.
Citing the growth of student numbers, Mr Miles said: “We are confident in the future of Swansea.”
Julian Gauregui, of Rhomco, described the plot as a “constrained island site” but said that Mariner Street, which links High Street and Dyfatty Street, would not be closing to traffic.
Jon James, of ISG, said it was the sixth project it had carried out with Fusion Students, including the Zenith scheme in Cardiff. “We are very pleased to be able to put our sign board up in Swansea,” he said. “We’ve been very keen to get a presence in Swansea for many years.” He said some local sub-contractors would be used, and that up to 200 workers would be on site at the peak of construction.
The Mariner Street scheme is the biggest of several purpose-built student accommodation projects under way in Swansea.
Others include a 706-bedroom development at the old Unigate Dairy site on Morfa Distributor Road, and a 645-bed scheme on Kings Road, SA1.
The first of these developments to open – in September this year – will be a 310-bed development on the corner of The Kingsway and Christina Street, and a 556-bed scheme at the revamped Oldway Centre, just a stone’s throw from Mariner Street.