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Co-Living Company Lures Ritzy Condo Developer To Oversee U.S. Expansion

The Collective Paper Factory

There was a time when luxury development was the place to be in the city’s residential real estate scene. But with the market now sliding, some are looking to what they consider greener fields.

Former JDS Development Group principal Simon Koster is taking on a new role at The Collective, a British co-living company in the early stages of its American expansion, the co-living company announced Wednesday. 

His position at the company is head of U.S. Development, a newly created role. While JDS is behind some of the city’s priciest developments — including the latest Billionaires’ Row condominium 111 West 57th St. — The Collective is looking to capitalize on the growing number of people in the city unable to pay steep rents or sale prices.

“The modern housing sector is grappling with an unprecedented, complex set of challenges rooted in the decline of supply, affordability, sustainability and community,” Koster said in a statement. "I am thrilled to be part of a team that is offering real solutions and changing the game once again."

The Collective, formed nine years ago, now has 8,000 units operating or under development. Earlier this year, it spent $58M buying The Paper Factory Hotel in Long Island City, with the view of spending millions to convert it into a "short-stay co-living" facility, where guests will be able to stay up to 29 days and take advantage of the shared spaces and community programming. 

The Collective is also developing co-living buildings at 1215 Fulton St. in Bedford-Stuyvesant and 555 Broadway in Williamsburg, with the view of opening in the next few years.

Last month, it announced it was launching COLIV, which it said is the world’s first institutional, large-scale co-living fund, with the aim of raising up to £650M ($840M U.S.) in equity commitments to acquire or forward-fund co-living assets in London.

Co-living is still a nascent industry in the city, but is picking up steam as government, the community and developers grapple with how to deal with the housing affordability crisis.

New York City has thrown its weight behind the idea, with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation last month selecting three "shared housing" proposals following a city-run competition calling on developers to put forward ideas.

"We’ve been able to create traction pretty quickly, and I really think that that is testament to just the culture of the U.S.," CEO Reza Merchant told Bisnow in March when its Long Island City deal was announced. "I find it an incredibly inspiring place to do business in. People embrace entrepreneurship and embrace hard work and dedication, so it’s been a real pleasure and very inspiring to build the business in the U.S. and get where we have. I see a very bright future for us. We’re really now putting our foot on the gas in terms of growth."