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‘Airbnb-powered’ apartment complex shows real estate playing home-sharing game

Niido, a 324-unit development in Florida, is the first in a wave of projects built to share

Airbnb ArthurStock /

Is Airbnb getting involved in real estate? A new development in Florida makes the case that in fact, real estate is looking to get much more involved in Airbnb.

Called Niido (a play off the Italian word for nest), a 324-unit set to open in Kissimmee, Florida, in the first quarter of 2018, will be “powered by Airbnb.” The room-sharing giant won’t own the property—construction and management will be handled by Miami-based Newgard Development Group—but will play the role of a “branded partner” and offer design assistance.

The apartment building has been designed for the platform and others like it. Each one-, two-, or three-bedroom unit, ranging from 750 to 1200 square feet is designed for seamless home-sharing, with keyless entry, an app that syncs with Airbnb, and large common areas. The entire garden-style complex will be staffed by a master host who will help guests get settled and take care of maintenance, linens, and cleaning. With the community dedicated to the concept, the thinking goes, complaints about frequent guests coming and going will be avoided.

Tenants will be able to rent out their units on Airbnb for up to 180 days a year. The entire arrangement is part of Airbnb’s Friendly Building Program, which offers landlords a share of some of the revenue generated from the platform. It’s an end to exchanging keys at a coffee shop, says Cindy Diffenderfer, co-founder and CMO of Niido.

“The biggest issue we’re solving for is that landlords don’t want people to share their rentals,” she says. “As their owners and developers, we’re encouraging it. We believe our product is revolutionary. We’re regulating and allowing room-sharing.”

The concept has been developed with input from Airbnb and its internal incubator—according to Cindy, the initial name was Airbnb House—over the last 18-20 months. It’s a great deal for the company, encouraging room-sharing in a more friendly environment without direct ownership of the property.

According to Diffenderfer, this is the first of many such developments. Similar complexes are being planned in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach, Nashville, Charleston, Boston, and Chicago, she says, all in areas that “want home sharing.” The company aims to open 6-8 buildings between 2018 and 2019 and add 2,000 units total. The development company recently partnered with a large national developer to help realize these goals, but Diffenderfer won’t publicly comment on which one.

Opening near Disney World, the project capitalizes on on the fact that the Orlando area is one of the fastest-growing markets for Airbnb; families love the extra space and flexibility of renting an apartment.

But, with a host on premise, and rooms specifically designed for travelers, isn’t this getting close to a hotel, or at least a different type of community? Diffenderfer says no, this is apartment rental, and her company is focused on the multifamily market. With the cap for home-sharing set at 180 days, she says, renters “can’t make this a business,” though it seems like renting every a room every weekend in an area near one of the country’s largest tourist attractions would be quite a good money-making opportunity (the exact location of the new building hasn’t been released).

JaJa Jackson, a global partnerships director at Airbnb, told Bloomberg that this concept show how the company is, “trying to make sure that home-sharing is not done in the shadows. This partnership shows how landlords, developers and Airbnb can work together.”