Student Housing Business

JUL-AUG 2018

Student Housing Business is the voice of the student housing industry.

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PROJECT PROFILE July/August 2018 98 Proving a Theory Peak Campus' Theory Raleigh is the result of evolving best practices and creative design. By Lynn Peisner T The most exciting deliveries today combine a stellar location close to campus combined with en vogue amenities and a solid manage- ment platform. Theory Raleigh checks all those boxes. The 525-bed, 150-unit community opening its doors this fall in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina's Hillsborough Street to nearly 100 percent occupancy. The project is near and dear to Peak Campus for a number of reasons. It's among the first of the Theory brands to launch. Theory Syracuse also opened this year, and the announced pipeline so far includes Theory properties in Atlanta, with Theory West Midtown opening fall 2019, as well as many others that are currently in pre-develop- ment in major university markets. "Being a college student can feel like a balancing act, and that's exactly what this vibrant and fresh brand is all about," says Casey Petersen, chief operating officer for Peak Campus. "This brand is built on the theory of living in an apartment with the right personal space, the right social areas, and the right loca- tion — all backed by an award-winning man- agement platform." Located a few blocks from the main entry to North Carolina State University and just south of the historic and happening shops and res- taurants of Cameron Village, Theory Raleigh has a great address. Like most cool communi- ties in urban areas near campus, obtaining the site and getting zoning and permitting are no easy tasks. Peak Campus hustled to obtain this parcel, where the former Velvet Cloak Inn once stood. The project is built on a two-and-a-half-acre footprint. Jeff Githens, president of develop- ment for Peak Campus, explains that Raleigh had recently completed a multi-year rezoning of most of the city. "There were just a handful of properties that had the zoning to support what we wanted to do, and this was one of them," he says. "It was a perfect storm of the land owner wanting to sell, zoning being enacted, and us being very interested in building in the Raleigh market." Githens says the development team faced some unique design challenges. It had to design a project that opti- mized the available buildable area on the site in a creative way to incorporate parking and maxi- mize residential density while stay- ing under certain thresholds. Going over 150 units, as an example, would have required add- ing one more point of ingress and egress. The site's slope enabled the team to build a terrace level to provide six levels of wood framing. Without that slope, only five lev- els would be allowed. This added density to the project that would have been lost and made the most use of the available building footprint. "We had to build no more than 150 units to avoid having to find another way into our parking deck, which we couldn't do without adding a lot of cost and exceeding our building height limits," Githens says. "It was a unique set of conditions to navigate — design a proj- ect that is in conformance with the building and zoning code while maintaining financial viability." Githens says the team was able to execute the design without having to seek variances, which would have been very diffi- cult to obtain from the city of Raleigh given the recent zoning changes. As a maiden voyage of the Theory brand, much is wrapped up in the Raleigh project. Theory Raleigh represents an evolution of sev- eral technologies, boosted by a great location. Right on the city's fiber line, the commu- nity offers internet speeds at 1 gigabit. Peak is also piloting a smart apartment program. The smart units, for a nominally higher rent, offer temperature and lighting control and work- order generation through an Amazon Echo voice command hub. "Through the pilot, we're trying to under- stand if it's something that residents want and if it provides real operating benefits," Githens says. "To date, it has been well received, and within a few months, we'll have hard opera- JEFF GITHENS President Development Peak Campus Peak Campus is opening Theory Raleigh this fall near the North Carolina State University. Raleigh and Theory Syracuse were the first two properties to launch the new brand.

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