Found Places, a co-lifestyle network that includes Found Hotels, is finding ways to merge student housing, residences and hotels to deliver affordable communal experiences in prime U.S. cities.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Companies that own and operate different types of real estate and housing are more common internationally, but one real estate group has brought that model to the U.S.
Hawkins Way Capital, a real estate group based in California, started its Found Places brand when it ventured into student housing in dense, urban markets; and later expanded its brand to hotels and residences through acquisitions, said Ross Walker, co-founder and managing partner at Hawkins.
Today, the brands under Found Places are Found Study, Found Hotels and Found Residences.
Young professionals looking for affordable communal experiences in big cities are the focus across all of the Found Place brands, Walker said. What makes Found Hotels unique is how it interacts with Found Study and Found Residences, he said.
People who stay in Found Study properties or live in Found Residences can take advantage of what Found Hotels locations have to offer through a membership, he said. Members are offered discounts on rooms and food and beverage at any Found Hotels location via the membership, he said.
The Found Places structure
International brands such as Oyo Hotels & Homes have setups similar to Found, in which they own different types of real estate and operate that real estate, but Found is really the first to bring this model to the U.S., Walker said.
“It’s great to have ownership and operations under one roof and growing, and that’s unique today,” he said.
The model also creates value for the consumer, Walker said.
“We have the real estate today to create those relationships between the real estate,” he said. “The people who live in our places can actually utilize our hotels, and you create this value to the consumer because you actually have real physical product where you control the experience across the U.S. today.”
Found Hotel San Francisco opened in December 2019. (Photo: Found Hotels)
The budget-lifestyle space
Found Hotels has 4,000 beds open or in development at properties in cities such as San Francisco, Boston, Miami and Chicago. Walker said Seattle and New York are the next big cities he wants to see the brand move into.
Walker said the brand mission is to create affordable lifestyle experiences in those markets.
Keeping costs low, he said, starts with buying the right real estate.
“It’s hard today to buy something and say you’re going to manage it better or do a cosmetic facelift to it and then be affordable,” he said. “Today, if you want to offer something affordable, you’ve got to buy properties right, and that has a lot to do with your sourcing criteria and going directly to ownership, but also having ways to add value to the project.”
Adding value to a property can be achieved in a multitude of ways, from adding units to activating a new common area space to generating retail revenue or F&B revenue, he said.
“Whatever it is, you have to have a value-add strategy to buy right in these locations to be able to offer an affordable product,” he said.