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Greystar launches new Canvas brand on £388m portfolio buy

River Street, Manchester.

Rental housing specialist Greystar is to pay investment manager Downing £388 million for four purpose-built student accommodation buildings and a build-to-rent asset. Two of the assets are destined to kick off its new brand, Canvas.

The four PBSA assets provide 1,807 beds in total in London, Manchester and Coventry. The build-to-rent asset is also located in Coventry and comprises 100 homes. Greystar Real Estate Partners will operate this as housing for young professionals, which it has done with some success in Europe although this is the first time it has targeted this group in the UK.

The assets are all in operation and currently have high levels of occupancy, the firm said.

Greystar said it will deliver additional value through the implementation of its “vertically integrated platform” to drive leasing, make asset improvements and implement capital projects such as the creation of new amenities.

“Our growth strategy in the UK is underpinned by strong, long-term market fundamentals,” said Greystar senior director UK investment Ben Mowbray. “With the expectation that the UK’s 18-year-old population is set to grow by 2.1% per annum until 2030, Greystar is well positioned to capitalise on increasing demand for high-quality student accommodation.”

Deal is ‘a milestone’ Downing said

George Downing, Founder of Downing, said the announcement of the deal with Greystar is a milestone for his business. “With over £1 billion worth of developments in the pipeline at sites across the UK, the agreement we have reached with Greystar will allow us to look for opportunities to grow our development programme further.”

The two London assets, in Lambeth and North Acton, will be added to Greystar’s Chapter portfolio, while the assets in Manchester and Coventry will operate under the company’s new pan-European student and young professional accommodation brand, Canvas.

The new brand has already been applied to assets acquired from Nido last year in Bristol, Glasgow, Coventry and London (Walthamstow and Wembley) and one in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

The company said Canvas aims “to support people during a significant period of their life by providing a safe and sustainable living environment”.

Chapter currently includes 11 premium London student accommodation buildings (5,642 beds) in Zone 1 and 2 locations including Spitalfields, South Bank, Old Street and Highbury. The two new assets will add a further 630 beds.