Uni Wants Wollongong’s Ibis

The University of Wollongong has entered negotiations to buy Wollongong’s Ibis Hotel to convert it into student accommodation.

But any sale will need the blessing of the land’s owner, St Michael’s Anglican Cathedral who has leased it to the hotel’s owner, Accor, since late 2006.

The church uses most of the revenue from the site to pay for heritage conservation and maintenance of St Michael’s which costs more than $60,000 a year.

Reverend Sandy Grant wants to ensure the site’s heritage significance, as well as the hotel’s commitment to supervising the behaviour of guests, would not be threatened if business travellers were replaced by university students.

The university hopes to secure a deal by the end of the month so students can move in by 2012.

The university’s general manager of accommodation services, Nigel Pennington, said a high-standard of behaviour would be expected from the 150 students who would live in the six-storey building. Acquiring the hotel would reduce the university’s 600 student-bed shortage by a quarter.

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