Vesper Holdings Transforms Student Housing Community in Virginia; Triples Value of Investment in 18 Months; Wins SHB Innovator Award

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Leading Student Housing Owner Implements Dramatic Turnaround of The Harrison in Harrisburg, VA; Property Transitions from 60 to 100 Percent Pre-Leased

In less than 18 months, Vesper Holdings successfully reinvented The Harrison, a 288-unit, 1,152-bed student housing complex, formerly known as University Fields, at 1191 Devon Lane in Harrisonburg, VA. Once dubbed “Trashby Ashby” by nearby James Madison University students, Vesper Holdings purchased it in foreclosure for $19 million in 2013, and quickly embarked upon a $9 million renovation program. Working in conjunction with the student housing leader’s own management division, Campus Life & Style (CLS), the program has resulted in occupancy rates rising to 100 percent from 60 percent, along with rent increases of approximately 30 percent, and an appraised value at over $50 million.

“The Harrison is one of our most dramatic improvement stories and a direct reflection of the standards we’ve set for the entire portfolio,” points out Elliot J. Tamir, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Vesper Holdings and CLS. “This year, we were honored with the Innovator Award for Best Turnaround by Student Housing Business Magazine, which represents an industry-wide affirmation of our work.”

Since its 2007 launch, Vesper Holdings has focused on the acquisition of under-producing student housing properties and converting them into thriving communities. Its properties are well known for their signature “Soho meets South Beach” design aesthetic, as originally envisioned by Mr. Tamir and interpreted by award-winning interior designer Jon Call.

The Harrison, which was built in two phases between 1989 and 1997, had been performing poorly for several years due to substandard maintenance and outdated amenities. To turnaround the failing property, Vesper Holdings immediately began renovating the individual units: refitting the kitchens with white high-gloss cabinetry, black granite countertops and high-end stainless steel appliances; upgrading bathrooms, adding energy-efficient washing machines and dryers and in many of the units; installing new plank flooring; and providing ultra-modern, yet very comfortable furnishings. In addition, 60 of the four-bedroom units were converted into one-of-a-kind luxury, two-bedroom suites with en-suite bathrooms.

The most visibly significant changes, however, were reflected in the common areas and amenities. The clubhouse was given a total overhaul, starting with a design that blended contemporary and vintage elements, which greatly improved both the student study and socializing areas. The interior details included graphics inspired by Matisse cut-outs and large-scale copies of works by Schnabel, Warhol and Basquiat in the entry. The designer also installed flooring composed of vividly-patterned Moroccan-style cement tiles and added brightly hued furnishings. The overall ambiance suggests a sophisticated private residence and reinforces the Vesper Holdings “social by design” concept.    

The amenities that were either added or upgraded included Vesper’s JIM Fitness brand state-of-the-art fitness center with Fitness-on-Demand, yoga room and spin room. Also added to the clubhouse were a hospitality bar and lounge, Starbucks® coffee bar, business center and conference room. Exterior amenity upgrades include a first-in-the market pet park, a hammock park, fire pit lounge, full-size basketball court and grill/picnic area.    

The refinished swimming pool and sundeck now invoke a spa setting, with custom black and white cushioned pool lounges and day beds, accented with colorful umbrellas. As an additional enhancement, complimentary resort-style towel service is provided to residents and their guests at poolside.

Adds Isaac J. Sitt, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, “Not only has our improvements plan resulted in the occupancy spiking to 100 percent, we have increased average rent rates by 30 percent, while still keeping the units at mid-market pricing. Moreover, the annual rental income at The Harrison has grown from $3.3 million to $5.2 million.”

Vesper Holdings and its investors have already realized a financial windfall, while establishing an important student housing community for the area. More information about The Harrison and other properties owned by Vesper Holdings and managed by Campus Life & Style is available at or by calling 512-806-1000.

About Vesper Holdings
Vesper Holdings is a private equity real estate investment firm based in New York City. Founded in 2007 by Co-CEOs Elliot J. Tamir and Isaac J. Sitt, the firm owns and operates portfolios that include mixed-use, retail, office buildings and parking assets. It is a specialist in revitalizing and repositioning student housing assets ranging from 10 to 15 years old and is one of the top 12 private student housing owners in the country. Vesper Holdings’ portfolio is currently valued at more than $500 million.

About Campus Life & Style (CLS)
Campus Life & Style (CLS) was founded in 2015 by Co-CEOs Elliot J. Tamir and Isaac J. Sitt as a subsidiary of Vesper Holdings to operate its student housing portfolio. Today, CLS is responsible for more than 10,000 beds in 18 properties, across 10 states. Since inception, the brand mission has been to elevate the college living experience and provide environments conducive to academic achievement and optimal socialization. Campus Life & Style is recognized industry-wide for its properties’ superior accommodations and service at mid-market rent rates.        
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Linda Alexander
Alexander Marketing
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