Student Housing Business

SEP-OCT 2018

Student Housing Business is the voice of the student housing industry.

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COMPANY PROFILE September/October 2018 StudentHousingBusiness.com 42 X XFD Real Estate Partners has its roots in Champaign, Illinois, where the company is better known as First Column Student Living, with a total of 700 beds across four separate buildings that were delivered between 2008 and 2017. Today, XFD is ready to expand in multiple directions, includ- ing third-party management. This growth is fueled, the com- pany says, by its team's aggregate years of experience and the attention to detail that comes from being a smaller shop. The company is led by President Doug Larson, whose fam- ily has been investing in student housing developments in Champaign since the 1970s. In 2004, Larson Company sold its legacy, scattered-site portfolio, which consisted of approxi- mately 30 buildings and totaling 842 beds, to focus on other real estate investments outside of the student sector. Larson then reentered the student housing sector in 2008 through a series of acquisitions and developments. Says Larson of reentering the market during the Great Recession: "We were already fairly committed to our project at the time. Additionally, Champaign wasn't as affected as most communities." In 2015, Larson began amassing a team to lead the charge for- ward, partnering with three former executives from The Scion Group — Samuel Mtunga, Daniel O'Brien and Gregory Marx — to form XFD Real Estate Partners. Marx and O'Brien are still with the company. Mtunga, a Malawian native and the company's chief operat- ing officer, has been in the student housing industry for the past 12 years. Mtunga first began his career in the student sector working as a temporary laborer for a local operator in Champaign. Mtunga worked his way up to vice president of marketing and sales for The Scion Group, overseeing a portfolio of 33 properties across 17 markets. Mtunga credits his experi- ence at Scion for building in him an entrepreneurial spirit, as he was responsible for marketing and sales, as well as for building the right team to manage the company's rapid growth. "The opportunity to start XFD really spoke to the entrepreneur in me," Mtunga says. "I couldn't pass it up." Larson was building up scale in Champaign as he redirected the company back toward student housing. He brought along three existing buildings when launching XFD. Then in 2017, XFD sourced and acquired a 732-bed deal in Lubbock, Texas, now known as Park East Student Living, which serves students at Texas Tech University. The company's portfolio today also includes 212 East in Champaign, Illinois, which it developed and delivered in fall 2017, with 428 beds. This property is located on Green Street, the campus' main drag. Green Street runs through the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's (UIUC) Campustown, a district consisting of about eight city blocks on the west side of campus that is home to many retailers and restaurants. 212 East is less than half a mile from the UIUC student union. XFD has offices in its 512 Green location, a mixed-use, 64-bed property located 0.3 miles from campus in Champaign, which was acquired and rehabbed in 2014. XFD is in the process of completing the second phase of rehab, transitioning third- and fourth-floor office space to apartments. The first floor will Size and Scale XFD is known for its high-touch approach to its development projects, acquisitions, operations, and now advisory services and third-party management. By Randall Shearin and Lynn Peisner XFD Real Estate acquired the 732-bed Park East in Lubbock, Texas, in November 2017. The community was built in 2016 and serves Texas Tech University. XFD developed the 428-bed, mixed-use community called 212 East near the University of Illinois, Champaign, in 2017. XFD partnered with Lewis & Clark Real Estate, a St. Louis-based real estate investment firm, on the six-story building with 11,000 square feet of street-level retail space.

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