AXA Investment Managers – Real Assets, a global real asset investments and the leading real estate portfolio and asset manager in Europe, has completed, on behalf of one of its clients, the acquisition of University Center Chicago, a 1,732-bed student housing property located in downtown Chicago.
AXA IM – Real Assets acquired a 95 percent interest in the property alongside a new joint venture partner, Blue Vista Capital Management, a Chicago-based student housing owner and operator, which holds the remaining 5 percent and will assume operational responsibility for the asset.
The asset’s prime location on South State Street in downtown Chicago’s South Loop submarket, in addition to its proximity to 22 local universities, has ensured high levels of both tenant demand and historic occupancy. The property also benefits from its walkable distance to a number of local attractions, including Grant Park and Lake Michigan, as well as access to the city’s strong transport links.
Purpose-built in 2004, the property offers 504 furnished residences with apartment and suite-style unit configurations. The 18-story class A asset also features approximately 28,004 square feet of street-level retail space currently occupied by nine high-quality tenants, with two additional tenants expected to take occupancy by year end. Property amenities include dining and conference facilities, a fitness center, computer lab, game room, bike storage, and an approximately 20,000-square-foot outdoor terrace. Residents also benefit from 24-hour security, high-speed Internet, laundry facilities, and study rooms as well as student lounges with kitchenettes for communal use on each floor.
This transaction, which represents AXA IM – Real Assets’ debut foray into the U.S. student housing sector, adds to the growing over €2 billion ($2.3 billion) of equity and debt assets that it manages in the United States on behalf of clients.
“University Center Chicago enables us to gain a substantial foothold in the attractive U.S. student housing market, while the quality and prime location of this asset, in addition to its strong historical occupancy, really make it stand out as a unique investment opportunity,” said Steve McCarthy, head of North America at AXA IM – Real Assets. “Furthermore, our hands-on asset management approach in conjunction with our best-in-class joint venture partner’s operational expertise will allow us to aim to further maximize the value of this investment for the benefit of our clients.”
AXA plans to continue expanding its North American portfolio in the future.