Quarters, a communal housing brand by German startup Medici Living Group described as the “WeWork of co-living,” appears headed for downtown Austin.
That’s at least the extremely convincing case built by a series of recent city documents and corporate filings, which heavily imply the .25-acre tract at 1108 Nueces Street will soon become the next planned American outpost for Quarters — a brand that, when combined with the company’s European “flat-sharing” properties, makes Medici the largest single provider of communal living spaces in the United States and Europe.
The Quarters brand boasts stateside communities either completed or expected in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. Medici recently announced additional funding to the tune of $300 million for a “major” U.S. expansion earlier this year, with Austin identified as one of the firm’s many target markets — so keeping that in mind, what makes us think Quarters is headed for the Nueces property?
A recent view of the 1108 Nueces Street property, currently occupied by a small office building.
Recently rezoned from a General Office use to the denser and more permissive Downtown Mixed-Use zoning category, the 1108 Nueces Street tract was previously announced as the site of a five-story office building by Mid-City Development. A rendering of the new structure appeared via local designers Sixthriver Architects in 2018, but this version of the project seems to have fallen through within the last year.
A second concept planned for the address emerged in city filings from Austin development firm Weaver Buildings back in July 2019, and the project, called “Capitol Quarters” and designed by local architecture studio McKinney York, now appears in Weaver’s online portfolio.
Documents related to this new building describe a five-story mixed-use structure with retail space on the ground floor and four floors of residential above — but the description also includes the term “Group Residential.”
This is one of the residential uses laid out in Austin’s land development code that’s distinct from the typical Multifamily Residential use of something like an apartment project, and is most often used for buildings like dormitories or fraternity/sorority houses — but it also works perfectly to describe the Quarters co-living model, which generally rents individual bedrooms to tenants in apartment units with shared common living spaces, comparable to many other residential co-op communities.
GROUP RESIDENTIAL use is the use of a site for occupancy by a group of more than six persons who are not a family, on a weekly or longer basis. This use includes fraternity and sorority houses, dormitories, residence halls, and boarding houses.
If the “Quarters” part of the Capitol Quarters name didn’t convince you, consider this — public records show a foreign limited liability company by the name of Medici 1108 Nueces LLC listed with the Texas Secretary of State on July 23, 2019, with the LLC’s purpose provided on its application for registration as “rental of co-living space.”
One of the two governing persons for the LLC listed in its filing, which can be read above, is Mark J. Smith, who also happens to be the president of Medici Living, Inc. — Medici Living Group hired Smith in 2018 to oversee the American expansion of its Quarters brand. The other is Christian Burghart, a partner at Schumann Burghart LLP, a New York legal practice describing itself as “the only corporate law firm in the United States with a focus on German-speaking companies” — which would come in pretty handy for a Berlin-based co-living outfit like Medici.
Representatives for Medici were not available for comment at the time of publication, so you’ll have to draw your own conclusions — it just happens that the information assembled here makes one conclusion a whole lot easier to draw. No matter what, the developer’s site describes the building as scheduled for delivery in spring 2021.
UPDATE: Less than 24 hours later, we’ve got ourselves an official announcement.
Austin, Texas – September 18, 2019 – QUARTERS, the largest co-living provider in the U.S. and Europe, today announced its first site in Austin, expanding the company’s fast-growing U.S. portfolio to seven sites across five cities. With 120 beds, the new location will be Austin’s first major co-living offering.
“Austin is the perfect fit for QUARTERS,” said Gunther Schmidt, CEO of QUARTERS. “With a well-established tech and music scene, Austin has become a mecca for entrepreneurs and a top city for young people. At QUARTERS, we provide an all-inclusive lifestyle specially tailored to young professionals and built around convenience, flexibility, and community. We’re excited to bring this unique offering to Austin and further promote the city’s incredible culture of innovation.”
The new location will be a ground-up, new-construction building located at 1108 Nueces Street in Downtown Austin, within a short walking distance from The Dell Medical Center, Google’s new Austin campus, and several prominent government buildings. Totaling 45,000 square feet, the five-story building will include 120 beds across 30 units and feature an expansive rooftop deck with views of the downtown skyline and capitol dome.
The property, which is set to come online in the spring of 2021, is owned by Austin-based real estate development firm Weaver Buildings. Designed by award-winning architecture firm McKinney York Architects, the high-performance building targets a 5-star Austin Energy Green Building Rating and Fitwel certification by utilizing Passivhaus and net zero design techniques.
The building holds a wide array of sustainability features, including on-site water detention, a multi-layered rooftop garden, and tech integration for energy efficient use. Activate Architecture will lead the integration of public art throughout the project via community engagement and an open call to local artists. In addition to the QUARTERS location, the property will also include 6,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor.
“As an Austin resident since 2001, I have witnessed firsthand a population boom and subsequent housing demand for market-rate affordable options,” said Jen Weaver, founder of Weaver Buildings. “By partnering with QUARTERS, Weaver Buildings is providing innovative and sustainable housing solutions to help meet this demand while also contributing to increased walkability in our evolving urban Austin.”
The announcement of the new locations in Austin follows QUARTERS’ $300 million raise for its U.S. expansion and roughly $1.1 billion raise for its European expansion, announced in December 2018 and January 2019, respectively. The two raises are set to bring 1,800 new units to the U.S. market over the next three years, and 6,000 additional units to Europe over the next five years.
In total, QUARTERS has six locations in Europe and the U.S., including three active sites across New York City and Chicago. In addition to Austin, QUARTERS has pending sites in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Brooklyn—all set to come online by 2019 and 2020. Target cities for future sites include San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Denver, Seattle and Miami.
QUARTERS’ co-living locations aim to alleviate the stresses of urban living, facilitating a frictionless, technology-enabled experience. Each property offers private, furnished bedrooms within modern apartments that feature attractive common areas and foster a strong sense of community through regular curated events. Rent, utilities, furnishings, smart-home technology, professional cleaning and streaming services are also included as part of the tenant’s affordable monthly payment.