International legal practice Osborne Clarke has advised Equitix, the investor, developer and long-term fund manager, and ENGIE, the leading energy and services group, on  contracts worth over £200 million for a state-of-the-art student accommodation and regeneration scheme with Freemens Common Village LLP, the project SPV established to design, build, fund, manage and operate the project for University of Leicester.

Equitix, ENGIE, and University of Leicester will take an equity stake in the project. ENGIE are responsible for  the delivery of 1,164 new student homes across seven blocks, the refurbishment of a grade II listed building (to be used as office and study space), the construction of a 500-space multi-storey carpark and the creation of a new 9,000 m2 teaching and learning centre.

This will be followed by a 50-year hard facilities management contract provided by ENGIE, which will support the day-to-day lives of the students providing technical services, estates management and external cleaning for the new residences as well enabling high speed Wi-Fi and IT services to ensure the best experience for occupants.

The scheme was financed via an unlisted bond wrapped by Assured Guaranty. Equitix will provide management services to the Project, overseeing the construction and operation of the new residences.

A key element in the design of the new facilities is energy efficiency. The overall scheme will incorporate a number of renewable and energy-saving technologies including solar panels, highly efficient centralised gas fired Combined, Heat and Power (CHP) and LED lighting will be installed.

The Osborne Clarke team was led by Partner Chris Wade who was supported by Amy Dimond, Leanne Hooper, David Smith, Philip Davies, Jonathan Culley, Jasdeep Puri, Andy Normington, Sarah Knight, Jonny Gait, Grace Hodgkinson and James Walsh. Colleagues from Osborne Clarke's Belgium and Paris offices also assisted.

The team has worked with Equitix for over six years and has previously advised on its joint venture accommodation development project with Durham University and its joint venture acquisition of ‘The Stellar Portfolio’.

Chris said: "Osborne Clarke was thrilled to act for Equitix and ENGIE on this project which will deliver urban renewal in Leicester and help the University of Leicester achieve its strategic growth plans.  The brownfield nature of the scheme added to its complexity but the common aim of all parties to deliver the project ensured that those issues were overcome."

With over 250 years of property expertise, Osborne Clarke’s Real Estate and Infrastructure sector team is a recognised industry leader in student accommodation. The team works with pan-European clients and currently acts for five of the top student accommodation providers in the UK.

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