100-Bed UK Student Housing Changes Hands

The Stratford property was sold to a venture managed by Curlew Capital on behalf of clients of CBRE Global Investment Partners.
Poland House. Image courtesy of Aperion Capital Ltd.

Apeiron Capital Ltd., a European asset and investment management firm active in the U.K. and Germany, sold Poland House, a 100-bed student housing asset in Stratford, England, to a venture managed by Curlew Capital using investments from clients of CBRE Global Investment Partners. It is Apeiron’s second Stratford disposition in the past year as the firm focuses more on logistics real estate investments.

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Apeiron acquired Poland House and an adjoining vacant property that was part of the former Three Mills East Filling Station in 2015. Demand for London-area student accommodations has been strong and the asset has been fully leased every year. It is located on Stratford High Street and close to Stratford International and Stratford High Street stations, both part of the Docklands Light Railway, an automated light metro system. Poland House is also near the Westfield shopping center and other local amenities. The area has seen ongoing development and investments following the 2012 London Olympics.

Last summer, Apeiron sold Queensway House, a four-story office building, also located in Stratford. Company officials said in a prepared statement Apeiron remains committed to its core markets in the U.K. and Germany but is investing more in logistics with its partners than student housing or offices. In the past 12 months, Apeiron has invested nearly 900 million Euros in Germany. The firm partnered with GreenOak Real Estate in May to acquire a 3.7 million-square-foot German logistics portfolio in a joint venture with Hana Financial Investment and Tiger Alternative Investors that consisted of three warehouse properties near Munich, Karlsruhe and Dortmund.

For Curlew and its institutional partner CBRE GIP, the acquisition of Poland House and the vacant parcel added a London development site to the portfolio as well as a popular student accommodation facility. Curlew Capital, a privately-owned U.K.-based real estate firm focused on development and investment management of funds and alternative real estate assets, made the investment through the Curlew Student Trust 2 PBSA Fund. To date, Curlew has raised and invested more than 1 billion pounds sterling. Most of those investments have come from CBRE GIP clients and in-house funds across the globe that invested in the U.K. Purpose-Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) sector through the CST 1 and CST 2 PBSA funds.

Hot Sector in the U.K.

The student housing sector in the U.K. has been very active in the past year. In March, a Greystar-led joint venture acquired a 458-bed student housing property in London’s Shoreditch neighborhood for more than $210 million from Apache Capital Partners. A month later, Singapore Press Holdings expanded its U.K. PBSA portfolio with the purchase of more than 1,200 student beds across three properties in Southampton, Sheffield and Leeds for $173.6 million. SPH cited a recent Knight Frank report on the PBSA sector predicting continued growth due to rising demand from both local and international students. The Knight Frank report noted overall rents have risen 2.26 percent for the 2018-2019 academic year. It was down slightly from a 2.55 percent boost the previous school year due to increased development in the market.

Other student housing activity in the U.K. last spring included a three-property acquisition by another Singapore-based firm, Far East Orchard, which purchased a portfolio with 622 beds in Liverpool and Bristol for about $72 million. Also in March, a joint venture between Europa Capital and Generation Student raised $132 million for its Europa Generation student housing fund for a total capital raise of $396 million. The fund’s first deal was the acquisition of 1,561 student beds in Bath, Newcastle, Sheffield, Aberdeen and Bournemouth.