The $100 million investment is only the beginning of a lengthyventure, says Christopher Merrill, co-founder, president and CEO ofChicago-based Harrison, which has the majority stake in theequity.

"Frankly, this is just the start so there's not a set amount andwe expect to grow it over time," Merrill tells "We'reprobably one of the top 10 companies in terms of ownership ofstudent housing now, and it's a good long-term business to be in."Current projects of the partnership include The Retreat at LakeTamaha and The Retreat at Knoxville.

Located in Tuscaloosa, AL near the University of Alabama, theRetreat at Lake Tamaha opened its first phase of 600 beds to fulloccupancy this school year and will complete with a second phase of700 beds by next school year. The project, originally started byAthens, GA-based Landmark and financed by Sun Trust and WellsFargo, will bring 342 cottages and house more than 1,300 studentswhen completed.

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