Flats for more than 250 students could be built in the city centre.
Plans have been submitted to demolish and redevelop the site of the Forster Building, a former teaching block for the University of Sunderland.
But planning permission is being sought despite predictions of a decline in the numbers studying at the university.
And brains behind the plans for the site in Chester Road have also raised the possibility of opening the doors to students at Durham University and Newcastle University.
According to a report attached to the proposals, which were lodged with Sunderland City Council in March but not formally ‘validated’ until earlier this month (May), data provided by the university has already shown a decline in student demand for private rented accommodation.
It added: “The University nevertheless offers support for the proposal on the basis that it constitutes high standard, value for money purpose built student accommodation immediately adjacent to the University’s City Campus whilst providing students with a local retail/leisure offer to encourage students to stay on campus, enhancing its vibrancy.
“On this basis, it is considered that the proposal meets an identified need for the particular type of student accommodation proposed.”
The city council’s Interim Student Accommodation Policy, which was adopted in 2015, has prioritised getting more students living in the city centre to ‘assist in bringing life into the centre’.
Research carried out in 2016 in support of plans to turn the former Joplings site into university flats, said more students might be attracted to the city if there was more ‘high quality purpose built accommodation’.
This also conceded Brexit was likely to have an impact on student numbers.
If approved the plans would see the construction of two blocks.
The first would have six floors, with 148 bedrooms set over four floors.
The second would have five floors, with 110 bedrooms also set over four floors.
Each would include communal areas, kitchens and bicycle storage, as well as retail units on their ground floors.
James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service