The Student Hotel kicks off European expansion in Florence
Adding to its seven-strong portfolio of properties, The Student Hotel has purchased one of Florence’s most iconic centrally-located buildings. The nearly 20,000-square meter property was part of the gigantic urban reorganization designed by Giuseppe Poggi in 1864, prior to Florence becoming Italy’s capital city. Originally built for diplomatic needs, it was used for many years as a public office space.
Known in Florence as the Palazzo del Sonno (“the sleepy building”), it overlooks Viale Strozzi in front of Fortezza da Basso, and is bordered by Viale Lavagnini and Via Lorenzo il Magnifico. It is believed that the name originates from accusations of the slow pace preferred by diplomats and white-collar workers of the last century.
Opening in in 2017 The Student Hotel Firenze will maintain its 19th Century facade but will be fully refurbished inside, mirroring the successful template established in the Netherlands. Contemporary architecture will frame the hotel and students’ rooms and studios, with a library, study areas, meeting and conference rooms, an incubator for start-ups, a games room, gym and bicycle fleet; every resident student is entitled to ride a VanMoof design bike for free.
The destination will also boast a rooftop swimming pool and a 180-seat auditorium. The courtyard, which so far no one has seen, will become a public plaza, with a café, a restaurant and other services.
“The Student Hotel Florence – says Charlie MacGregor, the company’s CEO and founder – will connect students and start-ups, freelancers and the business community. It will be a hub for an international network where people can meet, stay and work – this is the model for our European investment and roll-out.”
The total investment in the Florence project is in excess of €40 million and will create around 300 jobs during construction and when the hotel opens for business.
The Student Hotel, which currently operates 2,750 rooms in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Barcelona and Paris, aims to reach 10,000 rooms by 2020 through a programme of similar acquisitions in Italy, Germany, France, Spain, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. With The Student Hotel Florence, 390 rooms will be added.
“In Florence – MacGregor continues – with the support of the Mayor and his office we will build a bridge between the local community and the huge number of academic institutions based here, to create jobs and ignite inward investment.”
Florence, along with the local and historic university, hosts 54 leading universities of the world, including Stanford, Harvard, NYU and Tongji Universities, as well as the EU’s European University Institute headquarters.
MacGregor adds: “We will invest more than €600 million in the next three to five years. The growth and success of The Student Hotel is the result of strong public-private partnerships with local and international stakeholders. Together with city government and property companies we identify vacant buildings or building plots in regeneration areas, then fast-track them for development. We will look for investment opportunities in every university city which has international students, like Rome, Milan, Turin, Venice, Bologna and Padua.”
The 19th Century building purchase has been made in collaboration with Invest in Tuscany, the Regione Toscana project for attracting foreign investment. A partnership with Mayor Dario Nardella was critical in speeding up the whole project. The renovation will begin in early 2016 and The Student Hotel Florence will open in 2017 to breathe new life into an area that has never belonged to the public. Thanks to the investment, it will become a pulsating corner of a lively international city.
Dario Nardella, the Mayor of Florence says “The Palazzo del Sogno (“Sleepy Palace”) is about to become the Palazzo del Sogno (“The Dream Palace”). This deal is possible thanks to new planning regulations that offer incentives to investors. These are a sign of a city that has re-imagined its future, a city that does not put profit first but cares about the quality of community initiatives. This is what The Student Hotel Florence is all about.”
“There is more to a Student Hotel than high quality, safe accommodation for students”, Charlie MacGregor says. “Wherever we open a property, new life is born into an area because buildings and communities are regenerated, jobs are created and entrepreneurs find a space to flourish”.
Recently the company closed a round of funding of €100 million with APG, the asset manager for the Dutch pension fund ABP, with an invested capital of €356 billion, one of the largest pension funds in the world. Last year, Perella Weinberg Real Estate Fund II LP invested €150 million in the company.
Source: Student Hotel