Student Housing Business

SEP-OCT 2018

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

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THE SHB INTERVIE W September/October 2018 30 C From The Ground Up Campus Apartments is celebrating 60 years in business. CEO David Adelman started working at the company at a very young age. From its local roots to becoming national player, the company has a fascinating story that continues. Interview by Richard Kelley and Randall Shearin Campus Apartments is the embodiment of an entrepreneurial success story. The company was started with a good idea founded in basic business principles and grew from there. As a local student housing owner in Philadelphia, serving only one university, over the past 60 years the company has grown to a nationwide owner with more than 17,000 beds. Student Housing Business recently spoke with David Adelman, who began working at the company when he was in his formative years, to get a history of the company and find out more about Campus Apartments' strategy today. SHB: It is Campus Apartments' 60th anniver- sary this year. Many people in the business don't know that the company is that old. What's the history? Adelman: The company's founder is Alan Horwitz. His father was an attorney who dab- bled in real estate in Philadelphia in communities where rent was col- lected by the week. Unfortunately, his father died when Alan was 10 in the 1950s. Alan and his mother began operating the real estate and as he grew up, he fig- ured out the business by necessity. At some point in the late 1950s, they went to visit a real estate agent around the University of Pennsylvania campus and they saw a line out the door. It was a line of students wait- ing to find out the list of available off-campus apart- ments. Alan turned to his mother and said, 'we need to sell our other hold- ings and start buy- ing around Penn.' He bought his first property near Penn when he was 17; his mother had to sign the deed. That was how he started; it is the classic, entrepreneurial story. He began amassing real estate around the campus. He jokes that he used the security deposits from one building to make a down payment on another building. He named his company Campus Apartments. The original office was at 37th and Locust Street, which is now called Locust Walk. In the late 1960s, Penn opted to do an eminent domain purchase and acquired a bunch of his assets. SHB: How did you get involved in the company? Adelman: For me, Alan was a family friend and really one of those people you call your uncle, who is not really your uncle. He was a friend of my mother's; they met as children and grew up together. He would come over for dinner. When I was 11, I was playing bas- ketball with him and I bet him that I could beat him. He told me he would teach me about gambling. He didn't let me win and I lost my basketball, my football, my baseball glove and my savings pass book to him. I had to go to Campus Apartments every weekend and stack lumber and sweep sawdust to earn my stuff back. At my bar mitzvah two years later, I received $2,000 in gift money. I gave it to Alan and became a limited partner in a student housing deal. That was my baptism into real estate. I worked summers and every vacation at Campus Apartments. Alan knew I liked it Campus Apartments opened TENN this fall near the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. The 603-bed mixed-use property is located on Cumberland Avenue, walkable to campus. ALAN HORWITZ Founder, Campus Apartments DAVID ADELMAN CEO, Campus Apartments

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