BOSTON: Demand Outweighs High Costs
Developing student housing in Boston means facing high barriers, and expensive land--if any. (And nosy parents who insist everything be hypoallergenic.) Still, 12,000 new beds were built in the past two decades with more to come, we learned at Bisnow's 3rd annual Boston Student Housing Summit earlier this week. For Boston University, where tuition is $60,000/year, students and parents expect a high-quality academic program and physical plant, with housing playing a big part, says panelist Marc Robillard. That's the reason BU is investing in residences for 11,344 students and considers it important to own the properties. The proclivity toward ownership may also help explain why some of the big private student housing companies haven't made a major effort to play here. They may have a tough time finding a higher ed partner.
Boston's seen a great run of dorm construction—delivering 12,000 new student beds in the 20 Menino years—and it isn't slowing soon, says the BRA's Linda Kowalcky. That's noteworthy given the city's many constituencies that weigh in on development. Siting is also a challenge since there's very little vacant land in this old city; hardly any is downtown or near public transit. A rare privately developed dorm--the Gran Marc near Northeastern--is under construction. The BRA is also managing student housing projects underway at Wentworth Institute of Technology and Berklee College of Music.