Node, the company behind the Republic's first co-living residence, is intending to develop bigger developments in Dublin and Cork after raising £300 million (€327.5 million) as part of a new joint venture.
The build-to-rent company opened a boutique "curated living" 51-bed residence, comprising two- and three-bedroom furnished apartments with communal areas, on Upper Pembroke Street, Dublin 2 in April 2018. It now intends to develop properties of 100-300 beds locally following the joint-venture deal with Intriva Capital, a private equity firm, with headquarters in London, whose principals formerly worked at Apollo Global Management.
Node, founded in late 2016, is the brainchild of Anil Khera, a former managing director in Blackstone's real estate group, where he launched the private equity firm's European real estate capital markets group and helped establish the student housing platform Nido. The company also has communal developments in London, Manchester, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Seattle and Canada.
Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Khera said he was aware of the negative sentiment expressed by many towards co-living schemes in the Republic, but insisted that what Node was offering was significantly different from that offered by other developers.
“Co-living has become a bad word in Ireland, and there is no doubt that the concept of community living there has to be revisited, because some developments are asking for people to share very limited space, with some not getting much more than the equivalent of a parking space to reside in,” he said.
“We’ve tried to find the happy medium of offering build-to-rent apartments but with a community vibe and an all-inclusive deal, and I think in a post-pandemic world this is a more sustainable model,” Mr Khera added.
Node Dublin, designed by local architects NDBA and international firm DesignAgency, comprises a 51-bed residence of two- and three-bedroom apartments ranging from 60-75sq m each. All apartments have an open-plan kitchen and living space and each bedroom has an en suite or dedicated bathroom. Leases are possible on a six-month to 12-month basis and rents cost €1,200-€1,500 a month per room. Node was able to raise €12.4 million from Starz Real Estate a few months after the Dublin scheme opened, due to its early success.
“We plan with this new capital raise to either partner with developers or do stuff ourselves in Dublin and Cork and are looking at larger schemes of between 100 and up to 300 residences. We’ve used the past few years as proof of concept but are now ready to scale this significantly both in Ireland but also in other European and US cities,” Mr Khera said.
Node Dublin and its other properties were still all performing well despite the pandemic, he said, adding that while there was a lot of talk of people fleeing cities as a result of the Covid crisis, he believes young people will still flock to them in the future.
“The pandemic has given us the conviction that the right proportioned buildings with a good community overlay will be successful. Young people want and need to be in the city to build up their professional networks and to socialise, and we still see that continuing,” said Mr Khera.
Latham & Watkins and Deloitte advised Intriva on the joint-venture transaction, while Kirkland & Ellis provided legal counsel to Node.