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Co-Living Developers Say Their Buildings Make More Money Per SF Than Traditional Multifamily

A rendering of Ditto Residential's proposed development at 301 Florida Ave. NE

Co-living has been spreading consistently in the past few years, and two operators say it has been more successful than once expected.

Ollie's ALTA LIC in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, New York, provides a sort of apples to apples comparison between pricing in co-living versus traditional apartments. It is the largest co-living property in the country, with 169 of its 466 units split into 422 co-living bedrooms with common spaces. Ollie CEO Christopher Bledsoe told National Real Estate Investor that the co-living spaces are earning more money per SF than the buildings' traditional apartments.

In ALTA LIC, Ollie is able to fit two bedrooms into as little as 535 SF, and is charging $1,260 to $2,200 per month per bedroom. The rent includes WiFi, furniture, linens, kitchenware and toiletries, as well as a weekly cleaning service for common areas. Even all those add-ons are not enough to outweigh the efficiency of the spaces in terms of revenue generated, and Bledsoe told NREI that the co-living portion is 73% leased, four months ahead of what Ollie projected at opening.

Ollie also has locations in Boston, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, and opened a $50M funding round in September to finance further expansion. 

Another co-living developer, Washington, D.C.-based Ditto, has also found co-living more successful than anticipated. It has three properties in the metropolitan area, all of which are fully leased. The most recent one, in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, had 75% of its units leased before its opening in September. On the back of that success, Ditto has a fourth project in development and more in the planning phases.

Ollie and Ditto are far from alone in expansion mode among operators; Common has the largest footprint, is active in six cities and is working on adding a seventh in Miami. Coworking giant WeWork recently split into The We Company, elevating its WeLive concept as a division alongside its original version.