As college students head back to campus this month, many are expecting the latest and greatest in their housing options-swimming pools with lazy rivers, concierge service, cybercafés, tanning rooms and more.
“It’s over the top,” says Greg Faulkner, president of Humphreys & Partners Architects, an architectural firm based in Dallas. “The students are not only used to it, but that’s the trend and that’s what the competition is building.”
From today’s hottest amenities to winning community designs, student housing executives will explore the latest development and design trends at the 2014 NMHC Student Housing Conference and Exposition, which will be held Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. The premier student housing event is open to NMHC members and non-members and brings together nearly 700 owners, developers, lenders, brokers and university partners.
Here’s a sneak peek at some of the latest development and design trends in this unique market.
Location, Location, Location
“Location and proximity to campus and bars are increasingly important to the students,” says J. Wesley Rogers, president and CEO of Athens, Ga.-based Landmark Properties, a developer and manager of off-campus student housing.
Faulkner agrees. With cottage sites harder to find, he says he is seeing a move to infill sites that are walkable to campus and very urban in nature.
“We’ll see more high-rise projects just because the sites around the top 40 markets are getting smaller and smaller,” Faulkner says.
Landmark Properties’ urban infill product is not only conveniently located to campus and the nightlife, but it also is heavily amenitized. Units are outfitted with lavish features, such as stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and built-in pool tables.
The Standard at Athens, completed this summer, shouldn’t disappoint its student residents. It features the city’s first rooftop infinity-edge pool as well as racquetball courts, tanning beds, golf simulators, saunas and a cybercafé with a Starbucks machine.
“These rooftop swimming pools have been very well received,” says Rogers. “The premium units, with the built-in pool tables, also have been extremely popular.”
However, Landmark also continues to build cottage product and differentiates it with more square footage than you would get in a more traditional student housing environment and rich amenity packages, such as outdoor decks, multiple pools, larger clubhouses and more green space.
The Great Outdoors
Austin, Texas-based off-campus student housing builder and developer Aspen Heights has started to shift its focus from indoor amenities to special outdoor features.
“The overriding thing we’ve seen is that Generation Y, our customer, is extremely active,” says Ryan Fetgatter, vice president of development at Aspen Heights. “They don’t like to be indoors, they don’t like to be alone. In our amenity packages and layouts, we try to create spaces where residents can engage with each other and enjoy the community.”
The once-popular indoor movie theaters are being replaced with dog parks, disc golf courses and outdoor hammock and fire pit seating areas, where students can actively congregate.
“Dog parks are a huge deal for us,” says Fetgatter. “Pets are such great conduits for people to interact with each other.”
Article by Christine Serlin for the National Multifamily Housing Council.