'Luxury' student accommodation with bowling alleys, gyms and cinemas - but it'll cost €410 a week
Students are being asked to pay up to €1,640 a month to live in accommodation featuring "luxuries" like a gym, rain-head showers and floor-to-ceiling windows.
But activists claim the developer is pricing people out of the Dublin housing market by flooding it with luxury accommodation for rich students only.
Members of the DCU Student Union, the Union of Students in Ireland and Inner City Helping Homeless demonstrated outside the New Mill student residence on Dublin's Mill Street on Thursday.
A deluxe one-room studio apartment there costs €410 a week - or €1,640 for a four-week month. With 700 rooms, it is one of three purpose-built student residences in the capital owned by Global Student Accommodation (GSA).
The company, operating as GSA Ireland, will have 1,861 student beds in Dublin and 190 beds in Cork by September.
DCU vice president of education and placement Craig McHugh said complexes - including New Mill, Broadstone Hall in Phibsborough and Kavanagh Court in the north inner city - are more like luxury hotels than student housing.
Some of their amenities include private roof-top terraces, a bowling alley, cinema and gaming rooms. There are indoor and outdoor gyms, a fitness studio, mini golf putting green, music room with a mixer, drum kit and piano; and an outdoor BBQ pit and common room with pool and ping pong tables.
The cheapest rent starts at €189 a week per person sharing a "classic twin" room. That's two people sharing an en-suite bathroom and communal kitchen and living areas at Broadstone Hall.
Mr McHugh said student activists are outraged at the gold-plated accommodation during the worst housing crisis in the history of the State.
Not only is it out of the reach of students on State grants, even those working a 40-hour week on minimum wage would see more than 70pc of their wages eaten up by the cheapest rent on offer, he said. "Student accommodation should have a good standard but you don't need luxury gyms. This is aimed at rich parents," he told the Irish Independent. "It's pushing market prices up even further."
But GSA Ireland development director Aaron Bailey denied this, stating the market alone was responsible for rents. He argued GSA is adding to supply of accommodation.
As for luxury accommodation, he claimed that "building a more affordable product isn't possible" due to land prices and "strict specifications" imposed by Dublin City Council.
But he conceded "it could be seen as luxury compared to an inflatable mattress in a bedsit".