Hong Kong-based real estate investment firm Pamfleet is launching a pioneering co-living project in Shanghai, the company revealed to Mingtiandi, as the communal living model that has proven popular with young professionals in Europe and the US makes its first inroads into China.
Cohost West Bund, the co-living facility in the southern part of Xuhui district, is now accepting tenant applications ahead of its scheduled completion this summer. The project is located at 218 Baise Lu, adjacent to the Shanghai Botanical Gardens and less than five kilometres southwest of the business and innovation hub of Caohejing Hi-Tech Park.
Cohost West Bund features 67 apartments including studio, one- and two-bedroom units, a full gym with a pool and tennis courts, and over 1,000 square metres of boutique street-front shops.
From Hotel to Shared Living Space
Pamfleet partnered with Hong Kong-listed Deson Development International in October 2016 to acquire the residential project through its inaugural mainland investment vehicle. A subsidiary of Pamfleet paid RMB 57.4 million for a 70 percent stake in the joint venture, while Deson held the other 30 percent.
Under the deal, Deson is also assisting Pamfleet in managing the asset. While Pamfleet is known for carrying out its own asset management in Hong Kong, for its first mainland foray the value-add investment specialist opted to work with an established partner that already has a team on the ground.
The duo is working with Build, a boutique property development and management firm that specialises in the refurbishment of old Shanghai buildings, to redevelop the former Starway Parkview South Station Hotel into a communal living facility. After focussing on designing the project and getting the relevant approvals and permits to start construction, the partners have recently broken ground on the site.
“According to the latest construction schedule, we should have the product ready summertime this year,” said Kelvin Wong, a managing director at Pamfleet in an exclusive interview with Mingtiandi.
Pamfleet Works with Build to Launch Co-Living Brand
Build and Pamfleet worked together to create the Cohost co-living brand, and the partners brought Shanghai-based AIM Architecture on board to craft a design that fills a niche between low-end student and youth apartments and high-end serviced residences.
Todd Gill, who co-founded Build with Brent Beisher in 2008, spent over a year canvassing co-living offerings around the world to prepare the inaugural project in Shanghai, according to Patrick Kelly, Build Special Projects Managing Director.
“Our focus is on creating tenant communities to enhance the performance of our buildings,” Kelly commented to Mingtiandi. “Build caters to design-driven clients who are looking for modern spaces with a design aesthetic in a more personalized, unique environment than other, mass-produced, commodity real estate.”
“We set out to redesign living,” he added.
Xuhui District Project Targets Teachers
The property targets residents from the ages of around 25 to 35, who are looking to upgrade their accommodations and share a roof with other young professionals. “Our designer rental accommodations connect active people with long-term shared apartments,” Kelley said, adding that Cohost’s goal is for communities to embrace “connection and sociability, good design and a healthy lifestyle.”
Pamfleet is confident that the project will benefit from its wide catchment area and proximity to commercial hubs in Shanghai. Wong told Mingtiandi that 81 schools lie within a one-kilometre radius of Cohost West Bund, which will target staff and teachers from those institutions.
Aside from the Caohejing business park, the project is three kilometres west of the Shanghai West Bund urban regeneration project along the Huangpu River, which the district government aims to develop into a major commercial zone with museums, theatres, and corporate headquarters.
Investors Check into Chinese Shared Living
Pamfleet is also moving ahead with a co-living project closer to home. In early 2017 the company purchased an 11-storey building in Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui area on behalf of its Pamfleet Fund II, for a price reported to approach HK$600 million. The upper seven stories of the building at 176 Nathan Road are dedicated to residential space, which Pamfleet plans to convert into co-living units.
Pamfleet is among a growing array of investors that are betting on China’s nascent co-living market. Last September, a fund managed by Hong Kong’s Gaw Capital Partners invested in Harbour Apartments, a Shanghai-based firm that operates co-living spaces aimed at young tenants in seven major Chinese cities.
Although the terms of the deal were not disclosed, local media reported that the investment by the private equity shop formed part of a Series A round of financing that brought Harbour Apartments a total of RMB 400 million ($60.9 million).
US private equity giant Warburg Pincus is also betting on the shared economy real estate sector, co-founding rental residence platform Nova Property Investment with Chinese entrepreneur Qian Wang in early 2015. Last September, a Warburg Pincus affiliate committed $183 million to the mainland firm with dozens of projects in operation or under development in Shanghai.
Nova, which merged with Shanghai-based Yicheng Property Investment in 2016, operates and develops co-living facilities through its BaseLIVING brand.