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ALUM Building The Battery x Soho House in College Towns

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ALUM Building The Battery x Soho House in College Towns

ALUM, a new luxury real estate brand, recently launched in partnership with Legends. Its vision is to combine ‘world-class’ residential with high-end hospitality and fan-focused programming to create a fully integrated lifestyle segment in college towns across the country.

Imagine The Battery x Soho House with a collegiate theme.

“There's an opportunity to create a better experience, with upscale accommodations and hospitality, for alumni, parents, and fans; a true premium end-to-end solution for when they're in market,” Mike Behan (president, Legends College) said.

Each ALUM project will include a private members club, event spaces, a coffee shop, fitness facilities, and a pool deck.

The properties should be accretive to the fan experience in cities that often lack high-end accommodations and enough hotel rooms on marquee weekends. But they’re also being pitched as high-margin, cash-flowing investment opportunities for alumni, local real estate investors, and universities alike.


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Co-founder, Paul Brenneke, came up with the concept for the ALUM brand while putting his two kids through college.

The real estate developer “would go to towns, like Boulder, and realize he was paying $600-$700/night for two- and three-star accommodations,” David Vialli (co-founder, ALUM) said. He would also meet “all these other students’ parents who were having dinner and drinks in [dive] bars and that’s not where [any of them] wanted to be spending their time.”

It became apparent to Brenneke that there was an opportunity to construct a series of high-end mixed-use projects in college towns across the country. 

Properties that would be “more [akin] to what most people are experiencing once they’ve left the [collegiate] environment,” Vialli said.

Graduate’s success confirmed his belief that a themed luxury collection would work. The fast-growing lifestyle brand was sold to Hilton for $210mm earlier this year.

“Their exit was purely IP and future development rights focused,” Vialli noted (i.e. no property was included). 

The steady growth of college sports (football, in particular), and mass migration from big cities into secondary and tertiary markets post-pandemic, would seem to be tailwinds for ALUM. Those moving in expect the same luxuries they are accustomed to receiving elsewhere.

As would the burgeoning trend of non-hotel brands creating residential experiences. Aston Martin, Porsche, Lamborghini, Fendi, Missoni, and Nobu all now have real estate projects (or one under construction).

One key difference with ALUM’s residences is that they can be used as hotel rooms when not being occupied by the owner. 

“We’ll put it in the rental pool and manage [the property] on [the owner’s] behalf,” Vialli said.

The property owner will receive the nightly rental fees. ALUM simply retains a monthly management fee. 

Each ALUM project will have between 80-120 condo units. The company hopes to pre-sell some ahead of breaking ground in a new market, and the remainder during construction. The idea is to eliminate construction debt on the project as quickly as possible. 

“Then we’re left with the [high-margin] operating business of a condo-hotel, a private members club, food and beverage, brand retail, and event experiences,” Vialli said.

Legends will operate the projects’ retail, F&B, and members club, and game-weekend experiences.

Location is going to be key to each individual project’s success. And finding an attractive plot of land close to campus could be challenging in some markets. For example, it may be cost-prohibitive in cities like Columbus, OH or Ann Arbor, MI.

“However, there are a lot of markets where local landowners would like to better utilize and monetize their land and are willing to do joint-ventures or ground leases [on mixed-use development projects, as opposed to building student-housing or other projects that are not as lucrative on a go-forward basis],” Vialli said. 

And a growing number of schools are starting to think about sponsoring or building their own mixed-use developments on campus too. 

“Everybody is looking for ways to improve the [college] experience and to generate more revenue outside the walls of the athletic department,” Behan said.

That may be even more true in the wake of the NCAA’s recent $2.8 billion settlement of the House case. 

Since that “announcement a bunch of power four schools have raised their hand and said they too now want to talk about participating and investing in this type of project,” Behan said.

Each ALUM development is projected to cost between $70mm and $90mm to build and make fully operational. As the developer, ALUM will put up some of the cash alongside its GP partners. 

“Obviously, there will be the debt piece as well,” Vialli said (at least until the units are sold). “But in each market, there will be an LP pool of donors, fans, [or a school that wants to] come in and participate.”

That group will hold most of the equity in the project and participate in all its capital events (i.e. selling off the condos, refinancing). It will also share in the ongoing profitability of the operation.

“A lot of the revenue is [expected to come in the form of merchandise sales and] membership fees and dues, which [do not] come with a lot of drain on the profit side of the business,” Vialli said.

ALUM’s first three projects will be in Tuscaloosa, AL, Eugene, OR, and College Station, TX. Each is independent of the local university’s involvement. 

ALUM is breaking ground on its first project, in Tuscaloosa, later this summer. The property is slated to open in early ’26. 

Units are quietly being sold for between $750K and $3mm. A larger sales effort will commence once the ’24 football season kicks off.

Condos in Eugene and College Station will go on sale towards the end of this calendar year.

ALUM will then look to add five to six additional locations to its portfolio in rapid succession.

“We have 25-30 markets that we want to hit, mostly [within] the new B1G, the SEC and a few of the ACC schools,” Vialli said. “Then we’ll start to trickle our way down to other markets.”

Realistically, ALUM believes it can add three to four projects per year over the next half decade.

If ALUM were reach 25 projects, its valuation would likely be on par with Graduate. There’s no reason to believe the brand would command less than 8-10x on a per location basis–it has a better business model than the hotel chain.

“We carry little to no debt service after the condo sales and have reoccurring [high-margin club] membership fees,” Vialli said. “We also have a fiercely loyal user base because they’re [owners in] this experience.”

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