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Real Estate Bisnow
January 4, 2013  
How They Do it In Texas

Texas is discussing changing its higher education funding to an outcome-based program. Like Tennessee, it would award funding based on graduation rates rather than enrollment. That led the University of Houston to change its thinking on student housing. The main goal: Freshmen retention. (We suggest free pizza.)
U of H groundbreaking
U of H VP Dr. Carl Carlucci says the university has been doing partner housing for years, but those facilities are typically suite style, which work better for upper classmen. So U of H tore down two older projects and is building housing specifically geared to first-year students. These halls (replete with common areas and tutoring rooms) are designed to push freshmen out of their rooms and into study groups. One 1,100-bed facility was completed in 2010, and Carl tells us retention of those residents is 6% higher than the rest of U of H freshmen. (Just wish they would've brought enough shovels for everyone.)
University of Houston students
A second 1,100-bed freshman facility is under construction; upon completion, nearly all on-campus freshmen will have access to housing geared specifically to them. So U of H has turned its attention to sophomores. An 800-bed transition facility is also under construction. It’ll feature more privacy than freshmen housing but similar academic support. Both communities deliver this fall. Next on U of H’s housing agenda: Affordable housing for married students and younger faculty.

And TSU Caught the Fever
Texas Southern University is getting into the freshman housing game, too: In May, it's breaking ground on a $42M, 214k SF housing complex. TSU prez Dr. John Rudley says it's the culmination of two years of work on a pilot project where freshmen live on campus in a 24/7 environment including participation in community, cultural, and educational events. Harrison Kornberg and Lord, Aeck, Sargent are handling design of the seven-story building, which includes social and study areas on every floor. The 800-bed tower will allow nearly all incoming freshmen to live on campus.

Century Square Trades Hands
Pat Burger
A JV of Cardinal Group Investments and Fundamental Advisors acquired Century Square Apartments, a 138-unit community serving the University of Texas near downtown Austin. HFF’s Pat Burger (above, with his family at UCLA), Tim Wright, Doug Opalka, and Husayn Hasan arranged $9M in acquisition financing via a 10-year fixed-rate FNMA loan. Pat tells us the team had to overcome lenders’ bias against the age of the property (built in 1971 and partially renovated in ‘07). But it’s 100% occupied, and Cardinal had a track record with another successful UT asset. (We reached out to that bear for comment, but he only handles industrial properties and honeycombs.)
Century Square
Cardinal and Fundamental Advisors are renovating the property and rebranding it under an urban multifamily platform. Pat tells us Century Square serves upper classmen and grad students, many of whom qualify without parental guarantees. That helped the sponsor view the asset more like a conventional multifamily project.
"I was thrown out of school for cheating on my metaphysics exam. I looked into the soul of the boy sitting next to me." -Woody Allen. Share your news with Catie Dixon (catie@bisnow.com) or Tonie Auer (tonie@bisnow.com).
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