Student Housing Makes Strides for Improved Access

The current trend in student housing over the past few years has geared away from dormitories and more towards high-end apartments with swimming pools and party rooms. Another emerging trend seems to favor easy student access to restaurants, shops, and even hotels. Not only do students want to live close to campus, they also want to be able to have the convenience of proximity to food, coffee, and retail. Developers are trying their best to respond to the students’ demands.

Of course, the added amenities and the closeness to school and retail areas will come at a price, not only for the students, but also for the developers. In the past, student-housing developers wanted nothing to do with retail because mixing asset classes would make the projects more difficult to finance. But given the circumstances of these new trends, it is not uncommon to see mixed-use in 20% to 25% of assets being developed.  Since most banks only lend on one asset-class type, it is more difficult to convince lenders to sign on. The difficulty becomes worth it in the end because the close retail stores give projects a competitive advantage, and therefore allows the apartments to rent at a premium.

With college students averaging more than $15,000 in annual spending, the desire for retail near student housing is increasing. Although, not all industry experts are keen on integrating retail space near student housing. Kevin White, an acquisitions director at Virtus Real Estate Capital points out that many stores located near student developments can struggle to bring in customers. With experts leaning both ways on this issue, only time will tell which way this trend will sway. 

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Virginia MacKoul

Virginia is a graduate from the University of Florida's College of Design Construction and Planning with a degree in Sustainability and the Built Environment, and a minor in Urban Regional Planning. Virginia joined the Front Street team in 2011, as an intern. Upon graduation, Virginia joined the Front Street team full-time as the Director of Client Services. Ms. MacKoul’s addition furthers Front Street’s continued growth and expansion within Gainesville and other North Central Florida markets. She was promoted to Director of Marketing in 2014 and now manages the firm’s team of interns and oversees all marketing and branding activity. Virginia was born in Boston and moved to Lee County, Florida in 1997. Virginia graduated her high school's International Baccalaureate program and started at the University of Florida with a focus on Architecture. Virginia shares Front Street's passion of giving back to the community and those in need. Virginia's hobbies include photography, cooking, football, movies, music, and spending time with her dog, Brinkley.

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