Student Housing Business

MAR-APR 2018

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

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INTERIOR DESIGN March/April 2018 104 developed EdR standards distributed at every kick-off meet- ing that must be adhered to on every new construction project. But we also design and build for the region. A prop- erty designed for South Florida will be very different from a property designed for Northern Michigan." How to Value Design Market studies that track a direct correlation between a unique design and leasing rates are hard to find. But immea- surable benefits can still improve leasing and rent growth. "The value of good design is hard to quantify," says Kelly Naylor, partner and senior interior designer with BKV Group. "Good design can lead to a property leasing up more quickly than the competition, receiving more buzz on social media or maintaining the highest levels of occupancy. Inspired design can make the difference between a prospec- tive resident feeling like they 'could' live in a community versus them feeling that they 'have to' live in a community." When the investment team at Campus Advantage is eval- uating potential acquisitions with its joint venture partners, renovations and upgrades are part of the underwriting. This is where design can more directly be pinned to improved financial performance. "It's hard to quantify exact- ly how much return on invest- ment we can attribute to design upgrades," says Jennifer Cas- sidy, senior vice president of asset management with Campus Advantage. "But what we do see is that even with our rent growth trending above market average, we will see those prop- erties where we've made invest- ments on interior design lease up faster." Cassidy says The Verge in Orlando, which Campus Advan- tage acquired in 2016 and on which the company completed a clubhouse renovation in fall 2017, is preleased 30 percent ahead of where the property was at the same time last year. "It's not that the lease up performance is better because our rents weren't as aggressive, it's that we're seeing more traffic and more closings because of the appearance of the property and the demand to want to live there. It's also ben- eficial to word of mouth." While construction is underway, Campus Advantage often launches teaser campaigns through social media to give the market little glimpses of what's coming. When the renovation is complete, the company hosts a big reveal party. "So we make a strategic investment in revealing the new amenities spaces, but what ultimately happens is it improves our word of mouth so much that in the next cycle we're usu- ally able to reduce our marketing costs because there's been so much buzz created from that renovation process," says Cassidy. Dement also contends that design improves asset per- formance. "Our clients value our services because they know that it pays off in decreased operating and mainte- nance costs. I have visited so many properties throughout the country that have expensive finishes but are lacking in warmth and comfort. Good design is part of a winning combination of staff training and good customer service that leads to more renewals and caring residents." SHB EdR is developing 1,229 beds at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan. Pictured is the lodge, a designed as a nod to the climate and culture of the region. Campus Advantage reports these interior design upgrades to The Verge in Orlando resulted in higher pre-leasing numbers. Niles Bolton Associates was the interior designer on UH Austin for University House Communities. JENNIFER CASSIDY Senior Vice President of Asset Management Campus Advantage

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