Harrison Street in Continental Europe bow – Exclusive

The Chicago-based private equity real estate firm, one of the largest owners of residential property in the US, is to expand its reach in the sector to France, following on from recent deals in the UK and Ireland. 

Harrison Street Real Estate Capital, the Chicago-based private equity real estate firm, has entered the continental European real estate market for the first time with plans to develop a student accommodation portfolio of 10,000 beds across France.

The firm has formed a joint venture with Paris-based student housing developer HPC Group and its subsidiary, the real estate developer, Oceanis Promotion, to build a portfolio of high-end accommodation in major university cities throughout France. Neither party disclosed the price of the deal.

The partnership has already unveiled the planned first development, ECLA Paris, a high-end student property in central Paris constructed for the University of Paris-Saclay Campus, one of the city’s most prominent universities. ECLA Paris will have 1,200 beds, and will feature amenities such as study lounges, a fitness center, IT and music studios, restaurants and other services.

The campus was originally established to create an international science and high-tech hub, dubbed the French Silicon Valley, that could compete with other global high-tech business districts in Europe and beyond. It currently has 76,000 students, 300 laboratories and 10,000 research staff.

Harrison Street said the main factors determining its decision were the size of France’s student population, the second largest in Europe, and its popularity as one of the most desirable global seats of higher learning. “France has a large and growing student population and is one of the most attractive, dynamic markets for higher education in Europe,” said Daniel Gorzawski, head of Europe at Harrison Street.

“We are excited to be partnering with HPC-Oceanis, a best-in-class developer and operator of student housing in France, and are confident that Harrison Street’s significant experience investing in student housing throughout the US and Europe will serve our partners and investors well as we continue to expand our European presence,” added Gorzawski.

In 2015, the firm opened its London office and hired Gorzawski to spearhead investments in the European student housing market. The most recent deal, made on behalf of the fund, was a €60 million development in Dublin last year with GSA Investment Management, a global student housing developer. This was understood to be part of a wider €250 million co-investment plan between the two in the Irish capital.

As of this month, the firm had raised €235 million for its debut European student housing vehicle, Harrison Street European Property Partners I.