Is Your Downtown Ready For Housing Development III – Student Housing

In the course of our extensive market and case studies for downtown residential development, The Danter Company has established a checklist of 23 items that help us judge whether a downtown market is ready for residential development.  In this article, the third of a series, we will look at factors regarding student housing.

Part II
Part I

Student housing is a component of downtown housing that is often overlooked, since even downtown campus areas are often thought of as being separate from downtown.  The same factors that make downtown housing attractive for older households (entertainment, shopping, nightlife) also make downtown attractive for student housing, even if the campus itself is not located downtown.  In addition, colleges and universities put people on the streets and bring vibrancy to downtown.  Academic hours may extend beyond the traditional 8 to 5 of other businesses, and evenings and weekends bring athletic and cultural events.

Factor #10 – Location and Enrollment of Colleges and Universities

It is important when thinking about the relationship of student housing and downtown housing to consider the relative location of campuses to downtown, because a campus does not have to be in the downtown area to drive some demand for student housing.   Campuses in downtown or on the periphery of downtown are in the best position to drive student housing development, but a large campus within a couple miles of downtown can still have an impact on downtown housing, especially if well-served by public transportation.  In addition to traditional four-year public and private universities, it will be important to consider community colleges and specialty schools (art and design, business, technical and trade).

Factor #11 – Dorm Requirements

Any time student housing demand is measured, it is critical to understand the dormitory housing requirements.  Some institutions require incoming freshmen, and often sophomores, to live in dormitory housing.  Some institutions make exceptions for students living at home or within a set distance from campus, or exceptions for Greek organizations.  In addition, it is important to understand the relationship of  net enrollment (full-time enrollment minus dorm beds) to total on-campus housing capacity.

Factor #12 – Existing Off-Campus Housing

It is critical to not only measure the quantity of off-campus student housing, but also the quality.  Older student housing without modern student housing amenities is vulnerable to replacement.  It is also important to understand that off-campus student housing may serve students from more than one institution.

Factor #13 – Impact of Campus Transportation

Campus transportation that extends into the community and serves major concentrations of off-campus housing certainly facilitates off-campus housing development.  In addition, some public transportation systems offer free or reduced fares for students when presenting student ID, also a facilitating factor for extending student housing beyond traditional “off-campus” areas within walking distance of campus.

Next installment – Downtown Infrastructure and Attraction Amenities

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