Amenities: How Much Is Too Much?
When it comes to housing preferences, parents want safety while students want lifestyle, Campus Evolution Villages principal Andrew Stark (above left)—whose firm has 10,000 beds nationwide—told Bisnow’s Annual Student Housing summit last week. But when projects are offering over-the-top amenities like “300,000-gallon saltwater wave pools” to lure students, “maybe we’re at the point where it’s too much.” Peak Campus CEO Bob Clark (above right), with 55,000 beds under management, concurred. “Kids are living resort-style…like they already have jobs and are 10 years out in their careers.”
Nathan Collier, chief of The Collier Cos, with 23,000 beds, including IQ in Tampa (pictured), said he visited one student housing community with only 575 beds but the amenities “went on and on and on,” including soundproof music practice studios and massage rooms. “I don’t see how this thing could have been a 4-cap.” Bob, whose projects include Campus Circle at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (below), sees the amenity war tapering off. "I don’t think there’s much left that can be put in many communities,” he told the panel, moderated by Wearsafe Labs’ Clay Frost.
Noting he comes from a hospitality industry background (including VP with Homestead Village, and an accounting director with Marriott), Bob expressed concern that most student housing caters almost exclusively to the market’s higher end, with Ritz-Carlton-like offerings as opposed to “an array of different brands that serve different markets.” But developers aren’t creating these amenity-rich projects for students, Andrew pointed out. “They’re looking to attract the next piece of capital to buy the asset.”