By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor
U.K.-based Henley preps to make its debut in North America as it enters into a $100 million agreement with WaterWalk Hotel Apartments, a new national brand by entrepreneur Jack DeBoer. Together, the partners will develop five WaterWalk Hotel Apartments franchises in three states along the Eastern Seaboard.
WaterWalk is a hybrid hotel and apartment model, combining the amenities of an upscale extended-stay lodging with the convenience of multi-family rental living. With its all-inclusive pricing and options for one night to one year-plus stays, WaterWalk provides investors with the opportunity to reap the rewards of both the hotel and apartment markets. Henley couldn’t resist.
“We think the WaterWalk proposition is well crafted and carries certain attributes because of its unique approach, which delivers some competitive advantages over either straight multi-family or hotel models,” Ian Rickwood, CEO of Henley, told Commercial Property Executive.
Henley and WaterWalk will erect properties in Albany, N.Y., Charlotte, N.C., and Fort Lauderdale and North Orlando. The brand has already proven a magnet for corporate housing. The first WaterWalk property, located in the company’s hometown of Wichita, Kans., opened one year ago and managed to reach 98 percent occupancy in just seven months, with a bevy of Fortune 1000 companies signing on for corporate rentals. Corporate housing revenue in the U.S. reached $2.7 billion in 2014, marking a 4 percent increase over 2013, according to a report by the Corporate Housing Providers Association.
And both the hotel and apartment sectors are thriving. According to real estate investment services firm Marcus & Millichap, the hotel sector is on track to log record annual occupancy in 2015. And for the apartment market, the numbers tell the story, with current values at approximately 13 percent above the 2007 peak.
Henley will dig into U.S. soil for the first time when construction commences on the partnership’s new WaterWalk developments in 2016. However, there is likely more to come from Henley in the Stateside.
“We are committed to building a footprint across a wide range of the real estate market over the coming years,” Rickwood added. “As you will see from our website we have an expansive platform and already operate across three countries in Europe. As and when the right opportunities present themselves in the U.S. we will pursue them. Fundamentally Henley is an entrepreneurial company that backs entrepreneurs, and America is full of great entrepreneurs.”