Wednesday 26 June 2019

UK co-living company to enter Irish market

Startup eyes Ireland's booming tech scene with new type of housing

Photo: PA
Photo: PA

Michael Cogley

A London-based co-living company, The Collective, has purchased its first building in Dublin as part of its plans to expand into Europe and the US.

The business is likely to target the growing number of tech workers in the city with its "flexible" living arrangements. In its Old Oaks building, in west London, residents can sign leases of between four and six months or between nine and 12 months.

Its arrival to the market follows changes to planning laws made by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. The minister introduced changes to the minimum-apartment-size guidelines to allow for co-living developments.

The Collective's units typically include a bed, an en suite, a private kitchenette, and a desk. Tenants will also be able to make use of high-end communal lounge areas, dining rooms, kitchens, roof terraces, libraries, cinemas, and gyms.

Weekly rates in the UK start at £290 (€329) and rise as high as £325, depending on the length of the lease required. The company did not say how much it intended to charge at its new building in Fumbally in Dublin city centre. It added that its entry here was still at a very early stage.

The Collective's 29-year-old chief executive Reza Merchant said that he was "excited and honoured" to enter the Irish market.

"Dublin has demonstrated its ambition and potential as a city in recent years, and has cemented it's position as a major tech hub and global city. It is the perfect location for us and our members," he said in a statement to the Sunday Independent.

"We look forward to working with our joint-venture partners Mm Capital, and the local people of the Fumbally neighbourhood, to create a world-class cultural destination with community at its very heart."

Over the last year, the company has doubled its headcount to over 148 employees and has offices in New York and Berlin, as well as its headquarters in London. Merchant has outlined plans to double that number again to more than 300. In 2018, the company secured seven sites in Europe and three in New York. Merchant said 2018 had been a "landmark" year for the company.

"One highlight included the acquisition of our flagship US project at 555 Broadway in New York, which has a development value of $450m and will set the bar for the co-living sector in the US," Merchant said earlier in the month.

The company claims to be playing a "critical role" in addressing the housing crises across various global cities. The Collective also says that it has a "growing portfolio of over 7,000 units" and that it targets more than 100,000 by 2025.

Shared living has also been explored by flexible office letting company WeWork. In Ireland, Richard Barrett's Bartra Capital intends to build more than 1,000 units across Dublin.

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