Student housing brings with it a number of unique situations. Management and development groups need to establish good working relationships with universities; privacy laws and parents influence landlord/tenant communication; and most importantly, student contentment depends on successful interactions among these stakeholders. Keeping students' needs foremost, Blanton Turner navigates the intricacies of student housing to provide strong returns for our clients, to build relationships with universities and to provide living situations that are more "home" than "dorm."
Blanton Turner collaborates with universities and developers to avoid a perennial downfall of student housing: the perception that a captive audience guarantees success. Today's hyper-connected student population means that failure to make a splash on launch or repositioning can spell several years of turmoil for a property.
By example, the annual lease-up process for student housing properties means that business is never "as usual." Our experience navigating the move-out/maintenance/move-in and re-leasing process has turned Blanton Turner into a well-oiled machine, so the students can focus on bittersweet goodbyes and meeting their new roommates.
Powered by Blanton Turner - Nordheim Court
As an award-winning project in a great location, Nordheim Court, a 460-bed student housing project at the University of Washington, had enjoyed several years of success. Suddenly, economic factors going into the 2008/2009 school year led many students to move home rather than renew for a second or third year.
Our team responded with a new marketing plan and additional communications with university stakeholders to reach as many students as possible. The dynamic outreach plan and additional open houses resulted in 207 units leased in 5 weeks – or 45% of the building – all before the start of the fall term. Since then, Nordheim Court has remained one of the most popular and successful student housing properties at UW.
Blanton Turner repositioning projects are more than just a fresh coat of paint. Repositioning a student housing project requires making the tough decisions on what warrants an investment. When approaching a repositioning project, perhaps more important than our years of experience in student housing is our "boots on the ground" today – managing more than 1,300 beds at 4 schools. Our management teams know what students are asking for, and what they're never using. This information informs our approach to repositioning – focusing on elements that both make an impact in students' quality of life and contribute to the long-term financial viability of the building.
Powered by Blanton Turner - Commodore Duchess
(University of Washington)
The Commodore Duchess Apartments were originally developed in 1925 and 1927 as separate, zero lot-line hotels. The University of Washington purchased the two buildings in the 1950's and later converted them to an office building. The building was poorly maintained and eventually closed.
In 1995, the Commodore Duchess was leased by the National Development Council and was renovated through bond financing back into a 139-unit student apartment building. The building was brought up to current building codes and back to like-new condition without losing the original architectural charm. In 1996, Barry Blanton worked with the University of Washington to develop a system of management that accommodated the needs of the University, the National Development Council, and the bond issuer. That system remains the nucleus used there today for over 1,300 beds of student housing.
In 2011, the University of Washington opted to retire the bonds and take over the Commodore Duchess. In an unprecedented move, UW asked Blanton Turner to manage the Commodore Duchess given the long tenure the team of Blanton Turner had with the property.
Our pre-development work for student housing can begin at any time, but to achieve the most value we suggest engaging early (and often). We go beyond the property management "syllabus," providing expert opinions and informed advice on programming, design, unit layout, furnishings and property positioning.
Powered by Blanton Turner - The Douglas
The Douglas is the first new student housing project on the Seattle University campus since 2001. When the project landed with Seneca Group after transitioning through several ownership structures, we toured the development team through student housing projects at local universities to better understand what worked, what didn't, and where opportunities were being lost.
Our "back to school" tour informed the unit mix, layouts, furniture and finish selections and storage considerations. To sell to today's sophisticated college student, primary color palettes were out and contemporary cabinets were in. We also collaborated on a highly interactive marketing campaign to give the building a personality, inspired by profiles on social networking sites. The Douglas is a 'Sophomore" in Fall 2012 and is proving very popular among SU students.
As student housing development increasingly moves to private companies or joint ventures between private developers and universities, the projects present a unique set of financial challenges. Obtaining construction financing and insurance requires coordinating among multiple stakeholders and understanding the bond process that accompanies student housing projects for public universities. Additionally, costs per unit are higher than traditional projects and frequent renovation cycles require attention to long-term finances. Our understanding of these intricacies and experience throughout the lifecycle of student housing projects allows us to provide value from project conception through day to day management.