Student Living in CEE: JV to provide 5,000 beds across Poland

Griffin Capital Partners’ Managing Partner, Nebil Șenman, and Echo Investment’s CEO, Nicklas Lindberg, discuss their latest JV

April 3, 2024Real Estate
Written by Helen Richards

The current supply of student housing in Poland caters to a mere 10% of the country’s students, and those available are frequently substandard. With more than 1.2 million students - and growing - the demand for student housing provides attractive opportunities in the Polish real estate market.

The most recent project in this alluring sector sees a joint venture between Griffin Capital Partners, Echo Investment, and Signal Capital Partners to launch a market-leading student housing platform in Poland, offering 5,000 purpose-built, modern, energy efficient, beds across key academic cities in the next 3-5 years.

“The first buildings will be open in September 2025,” Nicklas Lindberg, CEO of Echo Investment Group, revealed to GRI Club. “The sites have been secured, initially concentrating in major academic hubs such as Warsaw and Kraków, followed by expansion into Wrocław, the Tricity region, and Poznań, and we have identified further opportunities which we are currently analysing.”

Echo Investment, the largest Polish development company, will act as the development manager, holding a 30% stake in the joint venture, while Griffin Capital Partners, the investment and asset manager, will share the remaining 70% alongside majority shareholders Signal Capital.

Lower tuition fees and living costs compared to Western Europe, as well as quality education are attracting increasing numbers of international students to Poland. (Credit: Uniwersytet Warszawski)

Griffin Capital Partners are the largest privately-owned investment and asset manager in private equity and real estate in CEE. Managing Partner, Nebil Șenman, describes observing an increasing popularity of the region to international students, “due to factors such as lower tuition fees and living costs compared to Western Europe, quality education, and cultural attractions.”

“PBSA (Purpose-Built Student Accommodation) in Poland remains an emerging institutional asset class and is growing more slowly than in other European countries,” affirms Nebil. “Currently, only about 12,700 beds are served by nine major providers, reflecting a huge shortage of student accommodation. This gap presents an opportunity for investors like us to fill the demand-supply imbalance.”

Quality is key, however, and the student housing platform launched through this joint venture will “prioritise projects distinguished by their accessibility, top quality, and sustainability, with proximity to universities,” explains Nicklas.

“It's important to highlight that the current generation of students in Poland now views dormitories with greater scrutiny, expecting higher standards, innovative design, access to services and entertainment nearby, and convenient transportation. These demands are reflective of broader expectations across the housing market. Gone are the days when a mediocre offering was sufficient for students, particularly in major urban areas.”

Griffin Capital Partners and Echo Investment already operate together in the living sector with their Resi4Rent platform, providing over 4,100 rental apartments, and growing. (Credit: Pavlo | Adobe Stock)

This isn’t the first joint venture between Griffin Capital Partners and Echo Investment. Market leaders in the PRS segment, their Resi4Rent platform “currently provides over 4,100 rental apartments in Poland's six major cities. There are over 4,300 apartments under construction, and the secured pipeline is now exceeding 11,000 apartments for rent,” says Nicklas.

“The expansion of the entire living sector [...] is primarily driven by lifestyle changes. These include the increased mobility of younger consumers, their willingness to meet needs through shared or subscription-based models, and evolving family structures, among others. We anticipate that these trends will continue to intensify.”

Similarly, Griffin’s Nebil Șenman highlighted the demographic shifts and ongoing urbanisation in key cities, contributing to the growing demand for housing in urban areas. Like many urban centres worldwide, CEE is experiencing a shortage of quality housing supply. “Additionally, with the influx of people from Ukraine, the living sector in Poland offers great opportunities for growth from an investor's perspective,” Nebil affirms.

Nebil Șenman will be joining CEE GRI 2024, on June 4-5 in Warsaw. GRI’s annual CEE flagship event will gather the leading real estate players in the market for two days of roundtable discussions and high-level networking.

Read more and register here now.

CEE GRI 2024