Urbania will create a giant student residence alongside Mi Casa Inn

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Spanish student residential housing sector. Both companies have signed an agreement including the development of 2,500 beds in the coming two years, on top of the 500 already in operation. With this plan they hope to put together a final portfolio of 3,000 beds, positioning them as one of the leading owners and operators of student residential housing in the country. For now, they already have buildings being constructed or developed which total some 700 beds and expect to complete the other 1,800 in 2018.

In the search for alternative investments, Urbania has spent two years studying the international student residential housing market in the US and Europe, explains Tomas Gasset, CEO of the developer and founding partner together with Alberto López and Mark Farber. The three executives, veterans of the sector, focused on residential development on the Costa del Sol between 2000 and 2008. Subsequently, a forced exile during the years of the construction crisis in Spain led them to try their luck in Brazil, where they have successfully developed two neighbourhoods and sold 2,200 units.

Upon returning in 2013, they adapted to the new business model of developers in this country and signed agreements with three international funds to develop various residential projects. But the firm wanted to diversify its business, which is why it has opted for student residences, considering them to be a very solid and complementary asset to our residential projects, says Gasset, who points out that the business is relatively underdeveloped in Spain with just two or three traditional operators, with the rest being fragmented.

Ongoing projects During this year and as part of its partnership with Mi Casa Inn, a company founded by the Fernández Luengo family, it has already invested some 30 million euros to purchase three assets that will be converted into new residences with around 550 beds. It also has an estimated total investment of another 100 million in the pipeline. For the new academic year in 2018, it has already planned the opening of two new residences in Madrid, the first in Ciudad Universitaria with 240 beds and another, named Madrid-Río, in the area of Arganzuela, with 103 beds. The latter, whose construction is already under way, is being built in the old Abba Atocha Hotel.

Furthermore, among its ongoing projects is the renovation of a hospital located at number 13, Calle General Rodrigo. In this case, work will start in early 2018 and will have room for 220 beds. Simultaneously, the firm will also start a project planned in Malaga, on Calle Cerrojo, where it will build a 140-bed residence. The Mi Casa Inn group already runs residences on the most central streets of Madrid, such as Gran Vía, Calle Fuencarral, Plaza España, as well as in the Salamanca neighbourhood, and it also hopes to open a residence in Puerta de Sol, according to its website.

With these and other new projects, the goal of this new joint venture is to become the first owner and operator of residential housing for urban students in Spain, as the other main traditional operators are residences located on university campuses, many of them licensed. In order to achieve its goals, the group will focus on the main university cities in Spain that have agreements in place with foreign universities, such as Barcelona, Pamplona, Granada, Valencia and Seville, among others.