The London-based developer of the world’s largest co-living community is expanding to the U.S. — and setting up a major shop in trendy Wynwood.
The Collective, the British startup that has 8,000 co-living units operating or under development around the United Kingdom and continental Europe, has chosen 2825 NW Second Ave. for its fifth location in the U.S. It also has acquired three locations in New York City and one in Chicago.
The Miami site is the current home of the Wynwood Gateway, the one-acre mixed-use complex that houses the Ducati Miami motorcycle dealership, Boxelder Craft Beer Market, the Chinese restaurant Palmar, Empire Ink Tattoo, DIROCCO Eyewear and the hybrid retail/co-working space Selina Brawlers. The owners of Boxelder and Palmar are already looking for new locations outside Wynwood.
Reza Merchant, the 30-year-old founder and CEO of The Collective, acquired a majority interest in the property, according to Tony Cho, CEO and president of the real estate brokerage/development firm Metro 1. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Cho will stay on as a partner on the project and play a key role in its development.
The 325,000-square-foot, $210 million development will rise from eight to 12 stories and include co-living spaces, galleries, restaurants and art studios. The project is scheduled to break ground within 18-24 months.
Cho had been in talks with various other parties — including the Standard Hotel, X Miami developer PMG and Ian Schrager — to develop the Wynwood site into a project that would include co-working, co-living and hotel, as well as unique retail.
“When I talked to Reza, there was a real alignment in terms of our vision of what the future should look like,” Cho said. “He’s not just doing this as a commercial venture. It’s a culture that he’s creating. I’ve stayed in some of his projects in London and I understand what he’s doing. He’s very focused on the creative and the artist, and there’s going to be a strong commitment to the creative class in this building.”
Since its founding in 2010, The Collective has overseen the launch of two popular short and long-term stay buildings in London that feature small living spaces and large communal facilities such as kitchens, cinemas, restaurants, work areas and game rooms. The company has attracted major investors such as Jonathan Teklu, the German entrepreneur who was an early backer of Airbnb, according to Forbes.
The Collective is preparing to open its first U.S. property, The Paper Factory, in the Queens suburb of Long Island City. That building, a former manufacturing warehouse, will operate as a 125-room short-term hotel/co-living facility when it opens in the fall.
“Cities are growing, but the space in cities is finite,” Merchant said about his company’s philosophy. “There has to be a more efficient way of using space. There’s also a growing realization by people that having a sense of community and meaningful relationships is a part of life. Living in a more communal environment can create that sense of fulfillment because you have the ability to connect with other people.”
Cho said he will retain some of the retail spaces on the site and will collaborate with local and international architects to ensure that the design of the building is consistent with the character of Wynwood.
“It was very important for me to just not do a straight sale,” said Cho. “This location is very meaningful and everyone who comes into Wynwood is going to see this site. I didn’t want to exit this asset without leaving my signature on the neighborhood.”