Everyone's Trying to Steal our High Schoolers
High school graduating classes keep growing across Texas, but that comes with a downside, says Texas State University director of housing and residential life Dr. Rosanne Proite (speaking at Bisnow’s Texas Student Housing Summit last week). Texas universities are seeing increased enrollment, which means more demand for student housing. But many other states have declining graduation rates, and many of them are setting up admissions offices across Texas and are fiercely competing for our intellectual capital.
How is the student housing industry dealing with the rising construction costs we’re all feeling? Rosanne is building community-style housing (it’s cheaper). American Campus Communities’ William Talbot (pictured with University Furnishing’s Paul Dougan) is being strategic about design—fewer amenities, having residents share accommodations, or different unit types—or taking lower yields. He’s doing the latter more often because in this environment, the right project can still make sense. He says he’s all about the top-of-the-line location, but doesn’t see the benefit in building for the top 1% or 2% of students willing to pay $300 over market. ACC’s Callaway House project is in a primo pedestrian location, but is at the same price point as older on-campus projects.
Our panelists, led by moderator DPR Construction project manager Bryan Kent (hanging out with Aspen Heights’ Mason Finley before the event) discussed the future of PPPs, and it’s a mixed bag. Southern Methodist University dean of residence life and student housing Dr. Troy Behrens says PPPs usually don’t work, and many universities end up taking the projects back. That’s why he kept his latest development project all in-house.
Will the Georgia system pull the trigger on its massive privatization? Campus Advantage VP Jonathan Bove says it would be an innovative move if it truly happens. William says ACC decided to pass on the opportunity—the program includes some small universities and largely commuter schools, which just don’t pencil out in his feasibility studies. William Talbot believes the future of PPPs is developers providing equity, building the projects on their balance sheet, and running them, but the university is involved in planning and resident life so it can retain what’s important to its culture. His team has done five projects like this for the University of Arizona, including one the university fills with honors students.
Here’s our sponsor Clean Scapes’ Jeff Pulley surrounded by Aspen Heights’ David Perez, Mason Finley, and Andrew Dickson. Jeff has handled landscaping at several student housing projects in Austin, San Marcos, San Antonio, College Station, and Houston, including ACC’s Callaway House at UT, TAMU University Apartments II, Hillside Ranch Phase I at TSU, and Twenty-One Rio at UT.