Have you noticed that more people seem to be on holiday, and for longer, this summer than usual?
I thought the day had long gone when the whole industry decamped to the south of France for the entire month because there was bog all to do at home. Not so, apparently.
This summer, it has been really quiet on the home front. My diary is not full to bursting. My inbox is almost manageable. PRs aren’t inundating me with calls at all hours (particularly, and mysteriously, on press day).
I blame Brexit. I reckon that it has not just suppressed the level of deal activity as the industry waits to see what frights this Halloween has in store, but that it has also encouraged people to have a big, last-hurrah, foreign holiday – just in case the country implodes on 1 November and the best people can hope for is a week in Margate (btw, if that does happen, I have two spare, very reasonably priced rooms I am prepared to rent out).
For those of us left holding the fort, it hasn’t all been catching up with admin, boozy lunches and watching the Ashes, though. Some of us have actually had work to do. The depleted PW home guard has been working tirelessly to stack up stories, for instance, while half our contacts are sunning themselves on a beach somewhere.
Luckily for us, there are pockets of the market that have remained surprisingly resilient, so there has been more than enough to write about. As we report this week, WeWork continues to gobble up new space like there’s no tomorrow ahead of its anticipated IPO, and fellow co-working provider Knotel has just raised $400m in its latest fundraise, having opened 63 London locations from a standing start last year.
Student accommodation is also having a moment. Indeed, it turns out that student portfolios are a bit like London buses. You wait ages for one and then three come along at once. Tailgating the DWS/Vita Student and Unite Group/Liberty Living deals, Student Castle is to sell a portfolio that could be worth up to £450m.
Meanwhile, mixed-use remains the talk of the town (centre revival). As we reveal, AEW UK is looking to raise up to £250m for a fund that will buy redundant retail with a view to converting it to other uses, including residential.
The idea that vibrant, mixed-use, community schemes could simultaneously solve both the retail and housing crises has really started to gain traction this year, which is why… drum-roll… the theme of the RESI Convention next month is: ‘Welcome to a Brave New Mixed-up World’.
Over a jam-packed three days, delegates will hear from new housing minister Esther McVey, Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud and co-chair of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission Nicholas Boys Smith, as well as a host of heavyweight industry figures debating issues including: ‘How mixed-use can we go?’, ‘Has affordable modular’s time finally come?’ and ‘How can we create more civil partnerships?’
We will also be unveiling this year’s cohort of RESI Trailblazers, hosting our third #RESIHackathon (hacking ‘later-life solutions that benefit the whole community’), urging the industry to take ‘The pro bono challenge’ and… you know what, there is just not enough space here to include everything; you will have to visit resiconf.com to find out more. We hope to see you there!
For full details on the event and how to book go to www.resiconf.com