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U.S. Investor's £40M Birmingham Debut As Student Housing Sector Booms

Harrison Street Real Estate/ULiving's £40M Bath Row scheme

Chicago-based Harrison Street Real Estate Capital is to make its Birmingham U.K. debut with a £40M student housing project at Bath Row, Birmingham.

The 425-unit project will be operated by Linkcity's London-based student housing brand ULiving in its first off-campus, direct-let project. ULiving will also be providing equity.

The move comes as data from Cushman & Wakefield reveals the strength of the Birmingham student housing scene. Birmingham now has 21,768 purpose-built student accommodation bed spaces for the 2017-18 academic year, the fourth largest city allocation in the U.K.

An additional nine blocks opened in 2017-18 accounting for 1,643 bed spaces, to meet the increasing demand from international students and those arriving to study from the rest of the U.K. Of these bed spaces 78% are en-suite.

En-suite room prices have increased by 4% annually, at almost double the national average of 2.3%, while studios have seen an increase of 3%, highlighting the continued strength of the Birmingham market supported by strong levels of occupancy.

At Harrison Street/ULiving's Bath Row scheme, UBS Asset Management is providing senior debt funding through its real estate debt fund, the UBS Participating Real Estate Mortgage Fund, while Harrison Street is the majority equity investor. ULiving’s partners Bouygues Energies & Services and Bouygues U.K. will provide facilities management and construction services.

Construction will begin in April, with the first students set to move in for the 2020-21 academic year.

Eastdil Secured acted as financial advisor and Trowers & Hamlins was legal advisor to the joint venture.