Consider the yurt: Sam Zell’s outdoor home rental business luring investors

Returns on Equity Lifestyle Properties are outpacing his other ventures

Petite Retreats Yurts and Cabins and Sam Zell (Credit: Petite Retreats and EGI)
Petite Retreats Yurts and Cabins and Sam Zell (Credit: Petite Retreats and EGI)

Sam Zell may be known for high-end apartments and skyscraper office spaces, but his outdoor rental business, which includes yurts, has been outperforming them both.

Stock for Chicago-based Equity Lifestyle Properties, Zell’s real estate investment trust for RV parks, mobile and manufactured multifamily homes, hit $95 this month. That’s a fatter investment return than Zell’s apartment and office management REITs, including Equity Residential, according to Crain’s.

Petite Retreats, which Zell spun off from Equity Lifestyle Properties last year, lists sites in nine states, including California, Florida and New York. The company rents out teepees, cabins, tiny mobile homes and yurts, starting as low as $52 per night.

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Equity Lifestyle Properties owns more than 400 properties all over the country. Its revenue from RV parks shot up 7.6 percent this year, and its revenue from manufactured-home parks swelled by 4.6 percent.

This spring, Zell said he believes the country’s lightning-pace industrial development is starting to outpace demand.

In June, a series of vulgar comments about women got Zell removed as a keynote speaker from the Mizuho global REIT and real estate conference. [Crain’s] — Alex Nitkin