NOT YOUR FATHER'S ANIMAL HOUSE
Technology and overcrowded schools (and not power-hungry deans trying to close the frat house) are contributing to the growth of off-campus student housing.
|That's the takeaway from our illustrious panel last Thursday during our Student Housing Summit at the Westin Buckhead. Place Properties CEO Cecil Phillips says "flagship" schools in Georgia are at capacity and that's driving the growth of the tertiary institutions, such as Kennesaw State University and Georgia Gwinnett College. For instance, UGA has enough slots for 33,000 students and doesn't have the capacity to build more. At the same time, Georgia Gwinnett grew from 1,100 students to more than 8,000 today. "As this demographic growth increases ... what you're finding is that more and more kids who can't get into the flagship schools are going to Kennesaw, Georgia Gwinnett," Cecil says. "That underutilized capacity is now what we look for in student growth."|
|Carter's Andy Feinour says investors are hungry for student housing opportunities because the sector "faired well" during the Great Recession as an asset class. There are new funds out there that have formed just to buy student housing. "And some of the foreign money is starting to look at student housing," Andy says.|
|Here's our panel in toto, which includes Andy, Cecil, Preiss Co founder Donna Preiss, Choate Construction CEO Millard Choate, and Reznick Group's Wes Hudson (who moderated). Cecil says, for investors and lenders, student housing is no longer a step child to the housing market: "It's because we have a track record. [Lenders] understand the demographics." Donna agrees and says Priess didn't do any development for three years, and she feels its balance sheet is healthier than many banks: "That's pretty scary."|
|Millard tells us that technology is driving student housing construction. Cecil adds that student housing needs to keep up or it will lose out to newer competition. ?You can be culturally obsolete. And if you're culturally obsolete, [students are] going to vote with their feet,? Cecil says. You'll be competing on price, he says, ?which is the absolute last thing you want to do.?|
|We chatted with Juneau Construction Co's Andrew Payne, Perkins + Will's Alex Wu and Nancy Juneau herself (who heads up Juneau Construction). Nancy tells us student housing projects are a lot of what her company is chasing now and she sees little evidence of a slowdown. "We've been very busy and we'll keep our fingers crossed." Juneau just broke ground on a student wellness center in Cartersville for Georgia Highlands College.|
|Bisnow's own Vanna White (aka Darla Bennett) showcasing Dekalb Office's new mobile student desk. DeKalb Office's Ed O'Connor tells our audience how the desk can swivel 360-degrees and has a space underneath for backpacks. Thanks to DeKalb Office for sponsoring the event.|