GMH, CBRE Partner on Student Housing Initiative

The joint venture’s first acquisition was an 816-bed community in Marietta, Ga.
SOVA Student Living. Image courtesy of GMH Communities

GMH Communities and CBRE Global Investors Fund have partnered up for a joint venture focused on student housing communities in the U.S.

The joint venture was created to acquire existing core and value-add student housing assets across the country. To kick off the portfolio, the joint venture acquired the five-story SOVA Student Living in Marietta, Ga., that was built in 2019.

The 248-unit community totals 816 beds split between one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units. The fully furnished units were built with bed-to-bath parity, oversized closets and private outdoor space. The community also includes a fitness center, hammock garden, clubhouse, cyber cafe, pool, fire pits, study areas and an outdoor kitchen and entertainment area.

Located at 3021 Hidden Forest Drive, SOVA is less than a mile away from Kennesaw State University. According to GMH, the nearby university is nearly fully occupied and saw an average of 6 percent year-over-year growth in on-campus enrollment in the last decade. Being one of the state’s largest universities, Kennesaw State University has attracted many other student housing projects, including a 241-bed community being built by Fountain Residential. 

Kim Hourihan, CIO for CBRE Global Investors’ Americas Direct Real Estate Strategies, said in prepared remarks that the student housing sector has often been resilient throughout the market’s various cycles due to the continuous increase of college enrollment throughout the country.

BUILDING A DIVERSE PORTFOLIO

Hourihan also said in her prepared statement that SOVA Student Living will be the first of many investments that CBRE and GMH work together on. According to GMH, the partnership is planning to target more student housing assets of varying return levels and risk profiles. The first phase of the partnership’s strategy will involve acquiring and repositioning of student housing communities over the next 18 months.

Outside its new partnership with CBRE, GMH has made several recent acquisitions for its student housing portfolio that has totaled more than 89,600 student housing beds over its 36 years of operation. The company’s latest acquisitions included The Dean Campustown in Champaign, Ill., and Academy65 in Sacramento, Calif.