Zakays make £100m leap into student housing
THE billionaire brothers Sol and Eddie Zakay have won the go-ahead for a £100m student accommodation scheme in Wembley, in a departure from luxury hotels and retail schemes.
Their property company Topland Group owns the Royal Crescent Hotel in Bath and a string of more traditional retail and office developments. The Zakays have now joined up with the Manchester-based developer Cole Waterhouse to target the student accommodation boom. UCFB, a sports university in Wembley, has already committed to lease more than half of the rooms.
The Zakays’ move comes as the area around Wembley Stadium undergoes a massive overhaul. Wembley Park, an 85-acre development, will deliver around 5,000 homes as well as buildings for retail and hotels.
Student accommodation has become a more mainstream investment opportunity in recent years thanks to increasing student numbers putting pressure on university-owned halls.
Large companies such as Unite and Empiric have expanded rapidly in response to demand for privately run options for students.
Major investors including Legal & General and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board have also bought student accommodation portfolios in recent years.
Now in their 60s, the Israel-born Zakays keep a low profile but are among Britain’s most successful property investors, having built an empire via sale and leaseback retail deals, particularly with Marks & Spencer and Tesco. Topland fell foul of the Government seven years ago when it was accused of running a £22.8m “conspiracy” to charge “significantly higher” than market rent for a court building.
The company denied the Ministry of Justice claim and the case was settled out of court.