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New hotel and homesharing hybrid creates investment vehicle for Airbnb

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High-rises with hotel licensing offer a new spin on sharing your space

A rendering of the proposed Natiivo project in Miami, a hotel
Azeez Bakare

A pair of new developments in downtown Austin and Miami hopes to create a new hybrid hotel and condo model that allows owners to buy into a large property specifically designed for renting out on Airbnb.

Built and designed for homesharing, and branded Natiivo, these high-rises will feature fully furnished residential units with 24-hour concierges and high-end amenities such as co-working spaces, spa-inspired fitness centers, and rooftop pool decks.

They also allow owners to buy into Airbnb as an investment, since they’re licensed as hotels, giving owners the ability to rent out all year long and not worry about any municipal limitations on homesharing placed on traditional residences.

These types of projects—hotel and housing developments specifically built around promoting homesharing services—kickstarted with developments like Niido, a 324-unit project that opened in Kissimmee, Florida, last year. Adjacent to central Florida tourist draws such as Disney World, the reorientation of an existing development was meant to appeal to traveling families (it also caused some consternation when current residents weren’t informed of the change to an Airbnb-friendly operation).

Developer Harvey Hernandez, whose NGD Homesharing company is behind both Niido and Natiivo, says the Niido properties—there’s a second one in Nashville—have been “going great,” and the company has spent the last year upgrading technology and preparing to expand.

A rendering of the Austin Natiivo project.
Azeez Bakare

The new Natiivo projects in Austin and Miami were chosen in part for being top 10 Airbnb markets in the country, and Hernandez plans to utilize Airbnb guidance on design, like he did with Niido. The tech giant is very involved in these projects through its Powered by Airbnb consultancy, with an eye toward making interiors more amenable to travelers. It will use common spaces to host Airbnb Experiences, the company’s tour and activities product, in hopes of adding additional selling points to travelers.

There was a tremendous demand for booking rooms in Niido, Hernandez says, leading him to look to create a project that allowed for even more bookings while avoiding municipal restrictions on Airbnb activity. He initially planned to open 14 Niido projects across the country, but has now scaled back with plans to focus on Natiivo.

Niido—a series of one-, two-, or three-bedroom units ranging from 750 to 1,200 square feet and located within a garden-style complex featuring keyless entry—allowed tenants to rent and then share their units in a “seamless, open, convenient, and safe way” for up to 180 nights a year. Natiivo, due to being licensed as a hotel, will allow owners to rent almost year-round. Owners will be responsible for hotel occupancy and property taxes, and pay 25 percent of their homesharing revenue to NGD.

Austin units, which range from studios to two-bedrooms, cost between $300,000 and $1.2 million. The Miami project, which will feature 604 units, will be available for between $300,000 and $1.2 million as well, and include three-bedroom options. Austin is expected to open in 2021, with the Miami project, designed by Arquitectonica, is slated to open the following year. Both buildings will feature units that NGD Homesharing will own and operate as hotels.

Airbnb has also expressed more interest in increasing supply and wading into the grey area where hotels, residential developments, and home sharing are increasingly blurring. As Forbes reports, Airbnb led a $160 million round of funding into hospitality startup Lyric, which leases apartments in bulk and then rents them out like hotel rooms. It also partnered with New York developer RXR Realty to build rental suites.

Hernandez argues that because the buildings will be hotels and not housing, they won’t impact housing costs or cause displacementcommon criticisms leveled at Airbnb. They’re creating room for these kind of stays, not converting existing housing and removing it from the rental market.

“We really want to expand this brand, but we’re taking it step by step,” Hernandez says. “This brand can work in a lot of places, and not just in the U.S.”