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Friday, May 27, 2022

Champion Expands Into New York

Sawtelle-based Champion Real Estate Co. has acquired its first student housing project in New York, furthering its expansion in the student housing sector.
In April the company announced it purchased Campus Hill Apartments, at 1201 Harrison St. in Syracuse, for $65 million. The 51-building portfolio has 715 beds across 267 units.

“We, over the last few years, have made a large push into the student housing space,” Garrett Champion, executive vice president of Champion Real Estate, said. “We are really geographically agonistic with student housing as long as the universities we go to are considered Tier 1 with 20,000 or more students and we try to target schools with well-known sports programs and name cache.”

The property will be rebranded as Victory at Syracuse and undergo renovations including new paint, flooring and updated kitchens. It will be leased by the bedroom, all of which will be fully furnished.
“Syracuse has a long history and a large student population and has the built-in demand,” Champion added.

He said some of the buildings haven’t been renovated in as many as 30 years and he saw his company as capable of increasing value to the properties.
Rittenhouse Realty’s Ken Wellar and Douglas Sitt represented Champion Real Estate and the seller in the transaction.

The Syracuse asset is Champion’s fifth student housing purchase since 2021.
Champion said the company is interested in acquiring more student housing assets, with locations near major universities being key.
“We will go to any state, any market, as long as the university has the characteristics we are looking for,” Champion said. “It’s university characteristics more so than geographical characteristics.”

The company, which was founded in 1987, started its push into student housing in its home base: Southern California. Today, the company has several projects near USC, an area where Champion is continually interested, but says there are only so many opportunities.
“We are always happy to do deals in our own backyard and we always look for more,” Champion said. “Because student housing wants to be in a certain proximity to school, it limits the number of properties that really qualify as student housing.”

For that reason, Champion said the company “can’t rely on one school or one city” and is part of the reason for the push into other markets.
“You have to be open to expanding to keep your deal flow up,” Champion said.
And looking forward, Champion said the company would continue to bet big on student housing.

“There’s a high barrier to entry. … We certainly have goals for expanding across the country further,” he said.
The company is still investing in traditional multifamily properties as well.
“We are big proponents of multifamily, especially in Southern California where you have a severe housing shortage. We are still looking for good multifamily properties,” Champion said.

He said the company is also interested in other types of housing, such as senior housing, going forward.
The company does not invest through the confines of a fund, which Champion said affords it greater flexibility when it comes to picking what properties to invest in and when.

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