Student Housing Business

MAR-APR 2018

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

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MARKET PROFILE: ATLANTA March/April 2018 96 Atlanta's Student Housing Stock Going Up Developers are flocking to Georgia Tech and Georgia State to answer growing housing demand. By Camren Skelton and John Nelson A Although not a traditional "college town," Atlanta is becoming a popular landing spot for student housing developers looking to meet the needs of a growing student population who want to live within walking distance to their campus. Enrollment growth is the main driver of student housing demand, and Atlanta's major in-town colleges — The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and Georgia State University (GSU) — are experiencing a boom. Enrollment at Georgia Tech's main campus in Midtown Atlanta was 21,512 in fall 2017, a 1.3 percent increase from 2016 and a more than 8 percent increase from five years ago. The university ranked number 1 in 2016 in terms of total enrollment growth in a study done by Axiometrics (now a part of RealPage), and came in at number 2 in 2017 with a projected growth rate of 5.3 percent. Situated a few blocks south in downtown, GSU consolidated with the two-year institu- tion Georgia Perimeter College in January 2016, a move that boosted its total enroll- ment figures from roughly 33,000 to more than 52,000 today. The merger took GSU from the second largest university in Georgia to far and away the largest. And the university recently welcomed its largest freshman class to date. At the main campus, more than 3,900 freshmen enrolled at the university for fall 2017, a 5 percent increase in first-year students compared to the fall semester of 2016 and a 16.4 percent jump compared to fall 2015. The increasing enroll- ment numbers don't appear to be slowing down anytime soon as the number of fresh- man applications for the fall 2017 semester increased 9 percent from fall 2016. Enrollment growth — coupled with limited existing supply and the desire of students to live near campus — is creating the perfect storm to draw the attention of student housing developers to these urban pockets. "Georgia Tech and Georgia State have been historically underserved with purpose-built student housing," says Wes Rogers, president and CEO of Athens, Georgia-based Landmark Properties. "The number of beds in relation to enrollment at both universities is relatively small. We felt like there was a market need there." Students of these urban universities who are living off-campus have historically lived in conventional apartment communities. But as the apartment sector experienced a renais- sance in terms of demand and investor inter- est following the recession, students found residences close to campus less and less afford- able, especially newer communities. "It's tough for students to pay some of the rents being commanded by the new product in town," says Will Casaday, vice president of development at South City Partners, an Atlan- ta-based developer of mixed-use, market-rate multifamily and student housing communi- ties. "The purpose-built student housing proj- ects are able to deliver similar — or equivalent in our case — quality product as the conven- tional apartments, but within walking distance to campus and at a slightly lower rate because we're able to lease it by the bed." Buzzing Around Georgia Tech Landmark is currently underway on The Standard at Atlanta, a 362,000-square-foot, 765-bed student housing development located less than a half-mile from the Georgia Tech campus. The community will deliver its first units this fall. "We are pre-leasing for The Standard and it is exceeding our expectations in terms of rates and pre-leasing velocity," says Rogers. Landmark teamed up with Atlanta-based Selig Enterprises to develop the community, which will feature a clubhouse, rooftop pool, tanning beds, fitness center, sauna, golf simu- lator, study lounge and a computer lab. "The biggest amenity for today's college stu- dent is bandwidth and internet," says Rogers. "The Standard will have fiber to the unit — the highest quality, highest speed internet in the market." In addition, the community will feature more than 10,300 square feet of ground-floor retail space, including a new Starbucks with a drive-thru. Landmark is also in the planning stages for a second Atlanta community — The Mark at Atlanta. In December, the firm acquired a 1.1-acre site near the Georgia Tech campus for the development of the 780-bed community. Landmark purchased the land through a joint venture with CityLife Development. The Mark will feature similar amenities to One of Atlanta's latest student housing projects underway is Landmark Properties' The Standard near Georgia Tech, which will feature a rooftop pool, golf simulator and a ground-level Starbucks Coffee.

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