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BTR roundup – Flying Butler enters the market and Strawberry Star growth

A major UK-based operator of serviced apartments has announced the launch of its new Build to Rent brand, Mura Living, as it enters this increasingly lucrative marketplace for the first time.

Flying Butler Apartments has opened its first scheme in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, and has plans to launch 5,000 units under the Mura Living brand across the UK over the next five years.

It says the brand will provide ‘an elevated rental experience’ through ‘thoughtfully designed apartment living’. This will include flexible communal spaces and support services, which means residents ‘can live with less effort and more ease in prime urban areas with excellent infrastructure’.


Thanks to short-term leases, no-deposit terms, on-site amenities, maintenance services and a 24/7 concierge, Mura Living insists it will meet an emerging need in the UK housing market for quality rental housing ‘for discerning renters’.

With the name Mura originating in Japan, the design of the homes aim to provide a perfect balance of Japanese simplicity blended with Scandinavian natural design to create a ‘Japanordic’ aesthetic.

The schemes under the brand will also feature carefully zoned communal spaces for residents to relax and enjoy. This includes a fitness gym, wellness centre, media room and residential lounge.

The brand will debut in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, with the launch of The Hamilton Apartments. This scheme sits just 25 minutes from London and includes a mix of 88 one and two-bed contemporary apartments.

Dominic Sherry, chief executive officer at Flying Butler Apartments in the UK, added: “We are very excited to move in to the BTR space with the launch of our new Mura Living brand. We see huge opportunity to grow Mura Living in the UK as a perfect complement to our Flying Butler brand, in a pioneering mixed-use serviced apartment and BTR capacity.”

He added: “Hemel Hempstead is our first Mura Living location in the UK and we are set to expand, acquire and operate further sites across the UK. Expectations of today’s renters are high and with our 25 years’ experience in residential services, we are well-positioned to deliver a cohesive, quality rental service under the Mura Living brand.”

Meanwhile, Strawberry Star’s BTR brand, Star Living, has announced the launch of Star Living Gravesend, a ‘high-quality’ BTR scheme on Bath Street in Gravesend, Kent.

The development is set to include 115 one, two and three-bedroom apartments and represents the brand’s second development after Star Living Harlow, which was announced recently by Strawberry Star’s dedicated BTR arm and is designed to increase rental supply across London's commuter belt.

Gravesend, a town with a long and varied history and a close connection to the River Thames, is currently undergoing significant regeneration and Strawberry Star says it is moving forward to deliver much-needed housing to the town.

As an end-to-end developer, Strawberry Star acquires, develops, builds and manages all of its portfolio. The company already has £1.4 billion worth of assets and more than 1,000 units under management.

The latest scheme will be built on the former site of the Gravesend Maternity hospital, with the old maternity ward being refurbished as part of the plans. Strawberry Star says it will maintain and incorporate the unique M shape at the top of the building.

“We’re extremely proud to announce the launch of Star Living Gravesend, the latest scheme under our new boutique BTR brand,” Santhosh Gowda, chairman at Strawberry Star, says.

“Star Living Gravesend will deliver much-needed rental apartments for the Gravesend community, helping to rebalance the levels of supply and demand for rental units. Our strategy to bring forward boutique developments will result in new homes coming to market much sooner than on larger regeneration schemes.”

The development is set to be an integral part of Star Living’s portfolio, with Gravesend meeting the criteria identified by the brand for a successful BTR scheme. Construction is due to begin in Q1 2023.

Star Living has been positioned in the market to provide ‘a modern and convenient rental product within the commuter belt against a background of chronic supply issues’, whilst also serving investors as a resilient asset class poised for growth.

BTR roundup – Flying Butler enters the market and Strawberry Star growth

Star Living Gravesend will aim to offer a single customer journey from reservations to end of tenancy, including digital concierge, and ancillary services such as laundry, dry cleaning and housekeeping.

Steven Beveridge, CEO at Star Living, added: “The launch of Star Living Gravesend is a significant milestone for us on our BTR journey. We’re determined to deliver high-quality rental homes to meet the needs of our residents in Gravesend and surrounding areas. The development will bring back into use a brownfield site that was previously used for the former Gravesend Maternity Hospital that was well known for birthing new life. It is an honour to have the opportunity to build on this heritage and revive this landmark site.”


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