13 September 2017 – El Economista
Urbania will work together with the manager MiCasaInn to create a new giant in the student halls of residence sector in Spain. The two companies have signed a partnership that will see the construction of 2,500 beds over the next two years, which will be added to the more than 500 beds already underway.
With this plan, the partners expect to have a final portfolio of 3,000 beds, which will position them as one of the largest owners and operators of student halls of residence in the country. For the time being, they are working on the construction of properties that will contain around 700 beds and their forecasts include completing the remaining 1,800 beds during 2018.
“As part of our search for alternative investments at Urbania, we have spent two years studying the international student halls of residence markets in the US and Europe”, explains Tomas Gasset, CEO of the property developer and founding partner of the firm, together with Alberto López and Mark Farber.
The three directors, veterans in the sector, first joined forces to focus on residential development on the Costa del Sol between 2000 and 2008. Subsequently, the forced exile during the years of the property crisis in Spain led them to make the leap to Brazil, where they successfully developed two neighbourhoods and sold 2,200 units. Upon their return, in 2013, they adapted to the new property developer business model in their home country and signed alliances with three international funds to develop several residential projects.
But the firm wanted to diversify its business and for that reason it has decided to back student halls of residence, as it considers that they represent “very robust assets, which complement our residential projects”, says Gasset, who highlights that the business “is relatively undeveloped in Spain, where there are just two or three traditional operators and lots of fragmentation”.
So far this year, and as part of its partnership with MiCasaInn, the company created by the Fernández Luengo family, the firm has already invested around €30 million in the purchase of three assets, which are going to be converted into new halls of residence with around 550 beds. Moreover, it has a total estimated investment of €100 million more in the pipeline.
For the new academic year 2018, the plan is to open two new halls of residence in Madrid, the first in Ciudad Universitaria with 240 beds and the second, known as Madrid-Río, in the Arganzuela area, with 103 beds. The latter, whose construction is already underway, is going to be built in the former Hotel Abba Atocha. Moreover, its other projects underway include the conversion of a hospital located on Calle General Rodrigo, number 13. In that case, the construction work will start at the beginning of 2018 and will give rise to a property with 220 beds. In parallel, the firm will also start a project in Málaga, on Calle Cerrojo, where it will construct a 140-bed hall of residence.
The MiCasaInn group already owns operational halls of residence on some of Madrid’s most central streets, such as Gran Vía, Calle Fuencarral, Plaza de España, as well as in the neighbourhood of Salamanca. According to its website, it also plans to open a student hall soon in the heart of Puerta de Sol.
With these and its new projects, the objective of the new joint venture is to become the largest owner and operator of urban student halls of residence in Spain, given that the other main traditional operators work with residences on university campuses and many of them are concessions.
To achieve its objectives, the group will focus on the main university cities in Spain, which have agreements with overseas universities, such as those in Barcelona, Pamplona, Granada, Valencia and Sevilla, amongst others.
Original story: El Economista (by Alba Brualla)
Translation: Carmel Drake