Has student housing grown up?

Developers are adding luxury amenities like gyms, coffee shops and pools

A peek inside student housing at Latitude (Credit: LiveLatitude, State Farm via Flickr)
A peek inside student housing at Latitude (Credit: LiveLatitude, State Farm via Flickr)

Student housing could be coming of age.

Developers of student housing have seized on offering amenities and convenience to maximize returns.

That’s meant a preference for building closer to campuses or in urban areas, where there’s less space and land might trade at more of a premium.

“I feel like most developers would rather do a 250- to 300-bed project right on top of campus rather than 500+ beds even a half mile off,” Ryan Tobias, a partner at Triad Real Estate Partners, which focuses on student housing development, told RE Journals.

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Developers have been adding amenities to try that blur the line between students and everybody else. Common examples would be a retail space like a fitness center or a coffee shop that’s open to the public but also serves as an amenity for students living in the building, Tobias said.

“They are open to the public as a retail space but also open out to the lobby/common areas of the apartment space,” Tobias said. “So it becomes a win-win for everybody. It’s a retail tenant but also a building amenity.”

And where there’s more space to build and enough demand from affluent students, developers are going all out.

Latitude, a complex that opened in 2016 just off the University of Illinois campus in Urbana-Champaign, even has a CrossFit gym, game rooms and an outdoor pool.

Student housing in the United States has become profitable enough that foreign investors are noticing — and jumping in. According to RE Journals, nearly half of all student housing investments in the United States in 2017 came from outside the country. [RE Journals] –Scott Klocksin