student housing N Illinois

4 takeaways from RE Journal's 2017 Student Housing Conference

  

RE Journal’s hosted its 3rd Annual Student Housing Conference at the Gleacher Center in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood on Thursday. Developers, principals and investors discussed the current trends and issues within the student housing sector.

RE Journal’s hosted its 3rd Annual Student Housing Conference at the Gleacher Center in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood on Thursday. Developers, principals and investors discussed the current trends and issues within the student housing sector.

Open student housing up to a wider audience. Robert Bronstein, president and co-founder of The Scion Group, thinks marketing student housing differently will help Scion stay competitive. He discussed Scion’s recent project, 1237 West, which was formerly DePaul University housing.  Since acquiring the property the company has eliminated resident advisors and allow residents other than students. As the only development operating like this in the Chicago market, it remains to be seen whether this will be a successful model.

Chicago is a difficult student housing market, despite thousands of students. During the first discussion, several panelists emphasized the trouble with the Chicago market. Brian Thompson, executive vice president of investments at CA Ventures said, “You don’t see people investing in the student housing market in Chicago because its hard to pinpoint where the group of students will live. There are thousands of kids that jump on the el and go from Wrigley, Lake View or Lincoln Park all the way to Hyde Park. It’s hard to put your finger on student housing in such a major metro area.”

Keep student housing single-focused. The panelists agreed that combining student housing with ground floor retail can be risky and more difficult to finance. The more uses you have, the harder it is to manage. Scott Klug, central & western U.S. regional vice president at Reis, also mentioned how parking requirements from municipalities is a top deal killer.

Trends are important, but so is longevity. The second panel discussed trends in development, planning and design. Building for flexibility is vital because you just don’t know what that building will be used for in 10 or 20 years, said Joel Sandridge, project development executive at Mortenson Construction. Other trends include eliminating cable lines, having increased security surveillance and communal bathrooms instead of in-suite. April Priebe, vice president student housing at Foresite Realty Mangement, noted that there is a severe lack of moderately priced developments, much of the new construction is high-end, Class-A. “For us, during pre-leasing our moderately-priced developments reach 90 percent occupancy.”

The first panel was moderated by Robert Natke, a partner at UrbanWorks, and included Ben Angelo, senior director of real estate development at Opus Development; Brian Thompson, executive vice president of investments at CA Ventures; Steven “Sonny” Ginsberg, partner at Ginsberg Jacobs; Ryan Welsh, vice president at PNC Real Estate; and Scott Klug, central & western U.S. regional vice president at Reis.

The second panel was moderated by Larry Blouin, executive director of capital projects delivery and facility services at University of Chicago and included April Priebe, vice president student housing at Foresite Realty Mangement; David Senden, principal at KTGY Architecture + Planning; Jack Boarman, Partner at BKV Group and Joel Sandridge, project development executive at Mortenson Construction