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University of Southampton acquires Sir James Matthews building

Above: aerial view of the Sir James Matthews building, Southampton (from CBRE)

How can universities help support the growth of cultural centres in cities? What effect is the buying of particular buildings on the uplift and vibrancy of cultural quarters?

The University of Southampton has acquired the Sir James Matthews building, a 101,794 square feet, five storey educational site in a transaction that will significantly increase the University’s city centre presence.

Located on Guildhall Square in the heart of the city’s cultural centre, the Sir James Matthews building was owned by Solent University. In 2019 the business, law and digital courses were relocated and the building has been unoccupied since that time. Named after one of the city’s leading educational stalwarts, Sir James Matthews, the building will undergo a refurbishment programme, with plans to have students back on site in time for the new academic year in September.

Phil Wright, Senior Vice President University of Southampton explained: 'It is very good news that the university is able to extend its city centre presence with the acquisition of the Sir James Matthews building.

'Following the opening of the John Hansard Gallery in the Cultural Quarter in 2018, we also established some of our administration offices in the Guildhall Square. Adding a new educational space to our existing portfolio, along with the student accommodation at Mayflower will undoubtedly benefit the local economy and cultural vibrancy in Southampton.' Alex Davies, Associate Director, CBRE Investment Properties added:

'The acquisition of the Sir James Matthews building is an exciting move for the University, further increasing its presence within the City Centre. CBRE is very pleased to have provided commercial and technical advice to the University of Southampton on this transaction.

' We look forward to seeing the refurbishment completed and students being on site.'

Solent University was advised by Weightmans and Savills, while The University of Southampton was advised by Lester Aldridge and CBRE.

The City of Southampton is bidding for the title of UK City of Culture 2025. All bids are asked to explain how they would use culture to grow their economies and regenerate post the pandemic. Southampton said if it wins it would have a spectacular opening celebration on land, sea and air with a vast fleet of vessels invited from across the UK and the world and featuring the Goddess of the River Itchen, Ancasta. The night sky would also be illuminated with projections, drones and lasers including historic monuments.


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