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Private dorms in Boston: London company hopes city proves U.S. beachhead

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From its U.S. headquarters in Fort Point, Scape hopes to grow to 20,000 beds nationwide

A Scape space in London; below: one in Melbourne

Scape, a development and ownership company based in London that specializes in private dormitories, is launching both its U.S. headquarters and its first American effort in Boston. Scape announced the moves on October 11. The HQ will be in Fort Point.

“Over the past decade, Scape has transformed the private academic accommodations market and has emerged as a best-in-class, vertically-integrated international operator and a globally-recognized brand,” a press release from the company read.

Scape currently runs what it terms “private, academic accommodations” in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia. It hopes to grow to 20,000 beds in the United States; and is investing $1 billion in starting that effort in Boston over the next five years.

A co-living dormitory common area. Photo via Scape

The obvious question is: Will such domiciles help put a dent in Boston’s housing crisis, one of perennially high demand and lagging supply? Scape thinks so—or at least the company says that that’s one of the reasons it picked Boston for its U.S. beachhead.

“Scape USA’s entry into Boston comes at a time when the city has identified the need for 69,000 units of housing, 16,000 new undergraduate beds, and 3,000 graduate beds by 2030,” the release read. “Scape is solving a student housing problem in Boston where an immense off-campus student population is exerting enormous pressure on the supply-constrained housing market, displacing workers and families and driving up rental costs.”

If the company’s inventory is any guide, there is demand for such sharing arrangements. A lot of room types at Scape locations in London are fully leased as are entire locations. Available room shares with two to five other people at the company’s Wembley location in the British capital currently go for nearly $240 a month.

Scape has not decided on U.S. prices. Stay tuned.