Catella European Residential Fund III acquires first energy-positive Elithis Tower in Saint-Étienne, France

The first in a planned EUR2.0 billion investment programme of 100 ‘energy-positive ‘Elithis’ residential towers across Europe, aimed at providing affordable and sustainable homes, has been acquired in Saint-Etienne near Lyon in France, by the Catella European Residential Fund III (CER III). 

These projects will be delivered between 20-to-30 years ahead of the EU’s ambitious 2050 carbon-neutral timeline target for the built environment and already outperform Europe’s climate goals for cutting CO2 emissions.
Catella Residential Investment Management (CRIM), the manager of the CER lll Fund, has formed an exclusive supply pipeline joint venture for the pan-European investment programme with Elithis, the French engineering and design company that conceived the energy-positive building concept, which produce more power than they consume, at cost levels comparable to standard buildings. The acquisition price for the Saint-Etienne project was around EUR15 million and it becomes the first Elithis tower to become part of the EUR4.8 billion Catella residential investment platform, the largest cross-border investor in this property sector in Europe.
Xavier Jongen, Managing Director Catella Residential Investment Management, says: “The Elithis towers are the blueprint for the future of affordable and sustainable residential living in Europe and we are at the start of rolling out a planned 10-year investment programme, starting in France and then moving into other major markets such as Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. The revolutionary energy-positive design of the buildings means tenants can make significant savings on their household costs, with the potential to eradicate their annual energy bills, while investors don’t need to sacrifice returns for a sustainable and low-risk stable income product offered at an affordable rent. Everybody and the planet wins. ‘Future-proof’ is an over-used term in the real estate market, but the Elithis towers are genuinely exactly that and the Catella residential investment platform has the reach, and the resources from the capital backing of our investors, to scale-up this technological breakthrough across Europe.”
The 4,000 sq m Saint Etienne development will comprise 56 apartments, nearly 500 sqm of office space and 257 sqm of retail, together with underground parking spaces. The building, designed by architects PPX, is located on the corner of Rue Cugnot and Rue de Sergent Riviere in Saint-Etienne’s Châteaucreux area, the city’s business district and location of its central station. The area has been transformed over the past years and offers a mix of commercial and residential accommodation as well as good local transport links and open spaces. Saint-Etienne, located 50 km to the south of Lyon, is the capital city of the Loire region and with more than 170,000 inhabitants, also has a strong local industrial economy.
Thierry Bievre, CEO Elithis, says: “Our DNA and advances in technology that have enabled us to design and build energy-positive buildings for the same construction cost as a standard building should send a strong message to real estate investors and governments that cost is no longer a barrier to integrating the highest levels of sustainability in residential developments. The Saint Etienne transaction marks a significant milestone in our partnership with Catella as the first of 100 towers to be delivered to their residential investment platform across Europe over the next 10 years. We are planning to start the development of another 8-10 projects in France this year and are working on several others across Europe, some of which will get underway this year.
The Saint Etienne tower will be constructed so it can easily be converted for other functions than residential use, should this be necessary. The technology employed in the building – photovoltaic panels and a bioclimatic design, which aims to preserve the environment and protect natural resources – will render it energy-positive from the outset. Elithis’ first project incorporating this technology was a 5,000 sq m office building completed in Dijon in 2009, a world’s first which continues to outperform industry regulatory requirements and recognised standard certifications. In 2018, after launching a successful architectural international competition, Elithis completed the Danube building in the French city of Strasbourg, the world’s first energy-positive residential building, enhancing the original concept. The building has been operating for the past three years with remarkable results surpassing initial calculations for energy performance and exceeding existing European norms and regulations.