Topping-out ceremony triggers launch of next phase of construction for new IntercityHotel Graz and adjacent “SMARTments student” accommodation

229 hotel rooms and 187 student apartments created right next to city’s main railway station

An official topping-out ceremony held today, Thursday, has triggered the next construction phase for the new Graz IntercityHotel, which will offer 229 rooms and 187 student apartments in a separate “SMARTments student” accommodation block. Development of the two buildings is taking place on a site which has been unused for decades. The GBI Group is responsible for project development in both cases. “This new build project will do a great deal to enhance the attractiveness of our city and the southern railway access point,” said Graz’s mayor Mag. (M.A.) Siegfried Nagl. Mr. Nagl was speaking on the occasion of the topping-out ceremony, and he also went on to emphasise the importance of developing this particular location. “One of the key outcomes to emerge from a working meeting with Graz’s hotel owners in May this year was a desire to strengthen the city’s brand identity as a tourism and conference destination. This venture is a vital piece of the jigsaw. It will also create extensive accommodation facilities for visitors in an outstanding location. Students who come to Graz because of our reputation as a city of research and development will also be able to find a temporary home.” The SMARTments student block will be completed in the spring of 2020, and the IntercityHotel itself is scheduled to open in the autumn of the same year. Both the buildings and a joint underground car park providing 75 spaces are being finished by the construction company Granit, which is also acting as general contractor.

This project in Graz offers the GBI Group an opportunity to consolidate its presence on the Austrian market. GBI is already the largest hotel developer in Germany, where it is also a leading player in the construction of student apartments. Its market launch in Austria began in Vienna in 2016. The company developed one of its own-brand SMARTments student accommodation properties and a serviced apartment hotel under the name of SMARTments business. Both are located near the city’s main railway station and are already in operation. A combination of these two brands under a single roof is currently being constructed in Vienna’s 19th district. “This project in Graz represents the first time that we have linked a conventional hotel with student accommodation on a single site in Austria,” said Karl-Heinz Daurer, Managing Director of GBI Project Development Austria. “Mixed-use concepts of this kind have proved their worth in Germany, and they are also a conceivable option for other Austrian cities such as Innsbruck, Linz, Salzburg or Klagenfurt.”

UNESCO World Cultural Heritage and a new design by Matteo Thun

IntercityHotel is a Deutsche Hospitality brand which encompasses over 40 hotels in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and the Arabian region. This new IntercityHotel will be located at Finkengasse 2. 229 rooms spread over six storeys will offer all the comfort guests would expect to find in the upper mid-range category, and it will also boast conference rooms, a bar and a restaurant. “Having already launched in Vienna, we are now delighted to be able to establish an IntercityHotel in Austria’s second largest city here in Styria,” stressed Thomas Willms, CEO, Deutsche Hospitality. “Austria is a highly dynamic and interesting market, and we will be seeking to expand our presence further in future.”

One destination that is particularly worthy of a visit is Graz’s historic old quarter, where the city’s perfectly preserved central area has led to the conferment of UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The IntercityHotel will also be offering something special in terms of its fixtures and fittings and overall look. The Italian architect Matteo Thun has developed a fresh interior design concept for a new generation of hotels by using natural materials and soft colours. All furnishings are coordinated with one another. This corporate design scheme incorporates everything from furniture to bedside lamps to food menus.

It adopts a sustainable approach which gives preference to the use of locally sourced materials and also includes energy saving concepts such as waste prevention. The new IntercityHotels also feature state-of-the-art technology in the form of high-quality Internet access, electronic check-in processes, a brand app and a system which enables guests to open the doors to their rooms by smart phone. The “FreeCityTicket” scheme is another classic hallmark of the IntercityHotel brand. This is included in the cost of guest accommodation and permits use of the whole of the respective city’s public transport system free of charge. It will also apply in Graz. Deutsche Hospitality is working in conjunction with the GBI Group on a number of other locations. Further IntercityHotels are currently being developed in Heidelberg, Wiesbaden and Bielefeld. As is the case in Graz, all of these will be situated within the direct vicinity of main railway stations.

Rising occupancy rates

The new hotel rooms in Graz will be very much in demand. Over the past 20 years, the number of overnight stays recorded in the city has doubled to more than 1.1 million. Availability of hotel rooms has not been able to keep pace with this development because overall capacity has increased only slightly over the last ten years. The consequence of this has been an increase in the occupancy rate which, according to the consultancy firm Christie & Co., reached 69 percent last year. Such market data meant that an investor was soon on board. Deka Immobilien acquired the hotel earlier this year as construction works were about to start and placed it in WestInvest’s special TargetSelect hotel fund, which is geared towards institutional investors.

When the SMARTments student accommodation block opens in the spring of 2020, it will become the 18th property to operate under this brand in Germany and Austria. “We will be sticking with our tried and tested rental concept,” explained Burak Ünver, Managing Director of the Austrian operating company SMARTments Ges.m.b.H. “Apartments have an average size of about 20 square metres, and students pay a fully inclusive rent. Heating costs, water, furnishings, electricity and the broadband connection are all covered.” The motto of SMARTments student properties is: “Move in and start living”. The fully inclusive price range in Graz varies between €450 and €495. SMARTments Ges.m.b.H. also makes great efforts to take care of the well-being of the students once they have taken up residence. Managing Director Burak Ünver added: “A tutor system has been set up at all SMARTments student locations.” The concept for the SMARTments student in Graz also quickly found a keen investor. The property was acquired by Catella Residential Investments AG on behalf of a pension fund in southern Germany even before construction had commenced.

SMARTments student will operate under the name of the Samuel Steinherz Haus

In accordance with the tradition of the Moses Mendelssohn Foundation, the parent company of GBI, each SMARTments apartment building bears the name of a Jewish personality whose biography is connected with the city in question. The property in Graz will receive the name Samuel Steinherz Haus. Samuel Steinherz was an Austrian-Czechoslovakian historian and university lecturer who grew up in Graz and Vienna. He was a significant researcher and teacher of Jewish history and devoted himself in particular to the integration of Jews into European societies. Samuel Steinherz died in the Theresienstadt ghetto in 1942 on the day of his 85th birthday.

About IntercityHotel

IntercityHotel is a Deutsche Hospitality brand which stands for modern upper mid-range urban hotels.
IntercityHotels are located within easy walking distance of airports or railway stations. Guests also benefit from a
“FreeCityTicket” scheme, which enables them to use local public transport free of charge. The IntercityHotels
portfolio includes 40 hotels in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Oman and China, and 20 further properties are
currently at the development stage. Deutsche Hospitality operates four further brands. Steigenberger Hotels &
Resorts boast 60 hotels housed in historic traditional buildings and lively city residences and also offer health and
beauty oases set at the very heart of nature. MAXX by Steigenberger is a new and charismatic concept which
places the focus on the essential in accordance with its motto “MAXXimize your stay”, whilst Jaz in the City branded
hotels reflect metropolitan lifestyle and draw upon the local music and cultural scene. Zleep Hotels provide quality
and design at an affordable price in Denmark and Sweden.

About GBI AG and GBI Wohnungsbau GmbH

GBI AG and its sister company GBI Wohnungsbau GmbH develop hotel, apartment and residential projects. Since its foundation in 2001, properties with a volume of around 1.7 billion euros have been sold or placed in Germany and Austria alone or with partners.
Hotel project developments of GBI AG comprise 14,000 rooms. The company works for all relevant national and international brands in the budget to upscale segments. The long-stay segment grew particularly strongly. Since 2010, the SMARTments® brand has intensified its commitment to the development and operation of micro-apartments for students, business travellers and private individuals. In the commercial area of SMARTments business, the project list includes locations with 752 apartments in Munich, Hamburg, Berlin and Vienna. In addition, there are around 700 apartments under construction and in the planning stage in Mannheim, Frankfurt Cologne, Hamburg and Vienna.
GBI Wohnungsbau GmbH is active nationwide in the area of SMARTments student, SMARTments living, as well as in classic subsidised housing construction. To date, 3,947 student apartment places have been completed or are under construction in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt/M., Cologne, Darmstadt, Mainz, Freiburg, Erlangen, Essen, Nuremberg, Würzburg, Kaiserslautern, Vienna and Graz. In addition, the development of the new SMARTments living projects in Hamburg and Wiesbaden is planned. A significantly growing area of activity is the development of privately financed and subsidised rental housing with currently around 1,000 residential units at 18 locations.
The parent company of GBI AG and GBI Wohnungsbau GmbH is the GBI Holding AG, a 100% subsidiary of the Moses Mendelssohn Foundation. The members of the Board of GBI Holding AG are Reiner Nittka (Spokesman), Dagmar Specht, Bernd Reitenspieß, Clemens Jung and Guido Bode.  The members of the GBI AG Management Board are Reiner Nittka (Spokesman) and Clemens Jung. GBI Wohnungsbau GmbH is managed by the Managing Directors Clemens Jung and Guido Bode. The Supervisory Board of GBI Holding AG is made up of Dr. Manfred Schoeps (Chairman), Markus Beugel, Engelbert Maus, Klaus-Dieter Metz and Dr. Günther Zembsch.