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Harrison Street Real Estate and Uliving form JV and reach financial close on Birmingham student accommodation scheme

Harrison Street Real Estate Capital, one of the largest owners of student housing in the US and Europe, and Uliving, the student accommodation developer and operator, have signed a partnership agreement to invest in purpose-built student accommodation properties in the UK and have finalised agreements on their first project, a new £40 million (GDV) student accommodation development in Birmingham’s city centre. The development will be Uliving’s first off-campus, direct-let project.

UBS Asset Management is providing senior debt funding through its real estate debt fund, the UBS Participating Real Estate Mortgage Fund (UBS-PREMF), while Harrison Street is the majority equity investor. Uliving, the dedicated student accommodation brand of property development company Linkcity, is also providing equity and is the developer and operator. Uliving’s partners Bouygues Energies & Services and Bouygues UK will provide facilities management and construction services.

This high-quality student accommodation development will be built on the site of Bath Court on Bath Row, ideally located for students studying at University College Birmingham, Birmingham City University and University of Birmingham campuses. It will include 435 new student bedrooms and extensive facilities including a large, street-facing gym; an open-plan common room area with seating, games and television screens; two study rooms; a launderette; a dance studio; and a landscaped roof terrace.

Construction will begin in April 2018, with the first students set to move in for the 2020/2021 academic year.

Daniel Gorzawski, Managing Director and Head of Europe at Harrison Street, said: “Partnering with best-in-class operators to invest in high-quality student accommodation projects is a key element of our strategy. This is a first-rate scheme in an excellent location and we look forward to a successful, long-term relationship with Uliving and UBS.”

Uliving’s Executive Chairman, Nicolas Guérin, said: “Having partnered with universities to create exceptional student accommodation schemes in Essex, Hertfordshire and Gloucestershire, it is exciting to have reached financial close on this project, which signals the start of our joint venture with Harrison Street and sees us developing our first off-campus, direct-let scheme. With its five universities and over 65,000 higher education students, Birmingham – Britain’s second largest city by population – is an increasingly attractive destination and the ideal location for this evolution in our product offering.”

Fabienne Viala, UK Country Director for Bouygues Construction and Chair of Bouygues UK, said: “Reaching financial close on this significant scheme highlights our collaborative approach: as well as marking the beginning of a new relationship for Uliving with Harrison Street, it also brings together the diverse capabilities of Bouygues Construction in the UK, with Uliving, Bouygues UK and Bouygues Energies & Services all working together to bring this project to fruition and manage it over the long term.”

Anthony Shayle, Managing Director and Head of Real Estate Debt EMEA of UBS Asset Management, said: “We are delighted to support this development opportunity with Uliving and Harrison Street Capital that establishes a long-term co-operation between our fund and two organisations with strong track records in creating developments improving the student experience. This loan reflects our continuing strategy in the UK, and potentially Europe, of supporting a broad cross section of the real estate market with innovative debt structures.”

Eastdil Secured acted as financial adviser and Trowers & Hamlins was legal adviser to the Joint Venture.

DLA Piper was legal adviser to Harrison Street Real Estate Capital and CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang was legal adviser to UBS Asset Management.