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World’s first major co-living fund seeks $825 million in pledges

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Real estate investment manager DTZ Investors and co-living developer the Collective have started the world’s first fund to buy and build communal housing in London, betting lonely renters and sky-high house prices will make the niche sector mainstream.

The venture is seeking 650 million pounds ($825 million) in commitments and plans to invest in six to 10 projects in London, according to a statement Monday. The fund has 70 million pounds of seed capital and its managers aim to build a portfolio valued at about 1 billion pounds over its 10-year life, with returns of 8% to 10%.

“We definitely expect a first-mover advantage,” Chris Cooper, chief executive officer of DTZ Investors, said in an interview. The fund manager invested in UK student-housing landlord Unite Group Plc in 2005, a time when purpose-built apartments for students were in their infancy. That bet has paid off handsomely.

Co-living developments provide small bedrooms or apartments with large common areas, selling customers on a sense of community and access to a wide range of amenities. The handful of brands emerging in the UK and US typically target young professionals who are priced out of buying their own homes.

The fund’s first investment is a 222-room building in London’s Harrow section that’s due to be completed in 2021. As well as funding new projects, the venture, called COLIV, will buy existing properties that have been operated by the Collective during its four-year investment period.

Tiny rooms

The Collective currently has about 1,650 rooms and is in the process of developing 8,000 more in the UK, Ireland, Germany and the US, according to CEO Reza Merchant. The average age of its customers is 33 and the average yearly salary of tenants at its property in London’s Old Oak is about 34,000 pounds, he said.

Critics of co-living point to the relatively high rents charged for rooms that are much smaller than normal studios or one-bedroom apartments. Rates at the Collective’s Old Oak, in the West London Willesden Junction district, start at 1,083 pounds a month for a room designed for one person when rented on a 12-month contract, according to its website.

“We are very focused on the quality of the space we design, and by sharing, you get access to so much more,” Merchant said. The company runs events designed to combat loneliness and bring people together, while its buildings have amenities ranging from cinemas, libraries, spas and, in the case of the Collective’s Canary Wharf site, a rooftop swimming pool.

“Financial return is a very important objective,” he said, “but for us as a business, we want to have a positive social impact.”

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Lifestyle

2-3 cups of coffee daily linked to lower body fat in women

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This news may make coffee-lover men depressed a bit as new research has revealed that women who drink two or three cups of coffee a day have been found to have lower total body and abdominal fat than those who drink less.

The study indicated that some compounds in coffee may have anti-obesity properties.

Overall, the average total body fat percentage was 2.8 per cent lower among women of all ages who drank two or three cups of coffee per day and the findings were consistent whether the coffee consumed was caffeinated or decaffeinated, and among smokers/non-smokers and those suffering from chronic diseases when compared to those in good health.

In men, the relationship was less significant, although men aged 20-44 who drank two or three cups per day had 1.3 per cent less total fat and 1.8 per cent less trunk fat than those who did not consume coffee, according to the study published in The Journal of Nutrition.

“Our research suggests that there may be bioactive compounds in coffee other than caffeine that regulate weight and which could potentially be used as anti-obesity compounds,” said Dr Lee Smith, senior study author from Anglia Ruskin University in the UK.

To reach this conclusion, researchers examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, organised by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US, and looked at the relationship between cups of coffee drunk per day, and both total body fat percentage and abdominal or ‘trunk’ fat (adiposity).

They found that women aged 20-44 who drank two or three cups of coffee per day had the lowest levels of adiposity, 3.4 per cent lower than people who did not consume coffee.

Among women aged between 45-69, those who drank four or more cups had an adiposity percentage 4.1 per cent lower.

“It could be that coffee, or its effective ingredients, could be integrated into a healthy diet strategy to reduce the burden of chronic conditions related to the obesity epidemic,” said Smith, adding that it is important to interpret the findings of this study in light of its limitations.

Coffee naturally contains a variety of compounds including caffeine, antioxidants and diterpenes. These contribute not only to the unique flavour but also to the well-researched physiological effects of coffee.

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Books & Authors

Lockdown diaries: Feeling bored? Read these classic books that shaped our childhood

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With every passing day, the numbers of COVID-19 cases have been increasing like anything. Seeing the situation, the government has hinted towards the fourth lockdown after May 17th with a new avatar. However, we have been confined to our homes since the first lockdown, that was called in March and this has made us feel bored as we have literally tried our hands on everything. But, there are still many things that you haven’t tried yet. And we’re pretty sure about it. One such activity is taking a trip down memory lane and doing the things we loved doing when we were kids like reading old classics. So, why not revisit some memorable kids’ classics that made our childhood awesome?

From Harry Potter to Malgudi Days, here are some of the best classics that can help you revive the old memories:

The Blue Umbrella

If you are a book lover, we are sure, you have grown up reading short stories and novels by Ruskin Bond. One of the most famous among all his books is ‘The Blue Umbrella’. While this lockdown has imposed restrictions on us, why not travel to fascinating places with some important life lessons.

Tenali Raman

One thing is sure that stories are one of the best ways to teach children life lessons. It’s not just books but also storytellers and their stories that have been passed on through oral tradition that add value to our kids’ lives. One such storyteller is Tenali Ramakrishna, whose priceless stories are still fresh in our minds.

Malgudi Days

Malgudi Days by RK RK Narayan is all packed with some important life lessons. The collection of short stories taught us how life can be satisfying.

The Harry Potter Series

Harry Potter always managed to make his position at the top of the list. The adventures of Harry, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger left us all enchanted and somewhere, we all wanted to be a part of his story. Reading about Harry and his friends is like unfolding your childhood memories in slow motion.

The Hardy Boys

The Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon takes us to the adventurous ride of teenage detectives Frank and Joe Hardy.

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Books & Authors

‘Afsaane’ by Ameya Bondre brings to the table, stories the modern reader always wanted to read

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True to the title, the book ‘Afsaane’ is a collection of eleven short stories written by the very promising début author, Ameya Bondre. The author brings to the readers, a series of contemporary stories from different walks of life. The author himself wore different hats throughout his professional life from being a physician to a public health researcher, public speaker, and now, a fiction writer! It seems as if these hats helped him turn different pages of life to string a bunch of stories, which cover diverse subjects like the tensed adoption of a child, a couple ‘finding’ themselves in a marriage, getting over bereavement, a reckless infidelity sowing the seeds of new-found love, and an awkward reunion of a long-lost pair. Perhaps, Afsaane can be best described as a collection of the ‘supporting actors’ of our society. In each chapter of the book, Ameya skilfully puts these supporting actors at the centre of a plot, and circles a story around them! Most of the readers love such stories, but building them as simply as he has, is a tall order. And, that’s where Ameya succeeds as an author and story-teller. While all the stories are gripping, there are a few that stand out: ‘A Frantic Call’, ‘Chaos’ and ‘Trapped’ will touch each reader irrespective of the demographic and reading taste, for the uniqueness of the plots, and fluency of the narration.

One more point that stands out throughout the collection is the novelty of metaphors. The metaphors are well thought and well described. Perhaps, this was never an easy thing for the author to do, keeping in mind the realistic settings of the stories.

Another feature that works wonders is the brilliance shown by the author in building a conversation. The authenticity of these conversations makes the stories in Afsaane, very suitable candidates for future silver screen adaptation!

The final point which deserves a mention and without which, this discussion will not be complete, is the cover of the book designed by Chinmayi Chavan. Though it is said that a book must not be judged by its cover, in this case, the cover is the first thing that attracts the psyche of the reader, and thanks to the brilliant content, the reader’s experience keeps getting better.

We recommend that you don’t waste your time thinking about reading this book. Simply go ahead and grab a copy. Get ready to be thoroughly entertained and engaged. We wish Ameya, the very best for his next work.  

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