Colliers International Launches National Student Housing Practice Group as Student Housing Expansion Demands Grow

Sources: Colliers International National Student Housing Practice Group, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Essential Public Media

Colliers International has launched a National Student Housing Practice Group, specializing in representing clients in the sale of quality student housing assets. The Student Housing Group of Colliers International is one of the most experienced student brokerage teams in the country specializing in large, bed-basis or by-the-unit leased student housing properties.

“The launch of the National Student Housing Practice Group by Colliers International is yet another example of our ability to quickly move to help our clients as various industry sectors become more active,” said Gregg Broujos, Managing Director & Founding Principal at Colliers International | Pittsburgh.  “As with all of our national practice groups, our clients can rely on our local knowledge and national reach to further their real estate objectives.”

Student housing has been one of the bright spots in the commercial real estate market.  Total annual sales in this niche have been estimated to be much as $2.5 billion as demand continues for newer facilities that better fit the needs of today’s students.

“The entire housing sector—apartments, seniors housing and student housing—has been a bright spot in our industry this past year,” Dwight Hotchkiss, executive managing director of Client Services for Colliers International, tells “We see this trend continuing and made it a priority to bring on an industry leading team.”

The student housing niche requires market knowledge and student housing experience for success, because each local market is different. Dorothy Joffe Jackman, a managing director of Colliers’ Student Housing Group, tells, “the key for success is to continue to focus on clients’ needs and goals, whether through problem solving, creating value or seizing marketing opportunities.  Modern student housing has a wide variety of suite-style floor plans, to fit different students’ needs,” Jackman said. “And many of these communities are rich with amenities, with everything from nail salons, state-of-the-art fitness centers, and tanning facilities to resort style pools and Jacuzzis. Basically, everything you would expect at a five-star hotel.”

Student housing in the Pittsburgh market is gaining momentum, and locally, Robert Morris University has experienced “historic levels” for the 2011-2012 school year. “To accommodate substantial growth in undergraduate enrollment, residential enrollment and student retention,” Robert Morris University recently announced the purchase of a local hotel less than one mile from its Moon Township campus to gradually convert into permanent housing for about 500 students. 

According to the Post-Gazette, the university purchased the Holiday Inn near its Moon Township campus, and has used some of the hotel’s rooms to house students. About 37 percent of the school’s students used campus housing in 2000, while about half of the school’s 3,900 undergrads now want it. The rooms are bigger than most traditional campus dorm rooms, and feature a private bathroom with tub and shower, and, in most instances, two double beds. Once a week, the rooms are professionally cleaned — a service certainly not offered in campus dorms, and students have full use of an indoor swimming pool, a 24-hour workout room, restaurant, gift shop and the motel bar — for those 21 and older.  Shuttle buses run to and from the campus every 15 minutes.  According to a news release, “the hotel will provide opportunities for student employment” and will offer “real-world experience” for RMU’s students in the hospitality and tourism management program.

RMU had 1,679 students living in campus housing in the fall of 2011, including the hotel. That’s an 86 percent increase since 2000. In August 2011, the university opened Peter Salem Hall, the 13th residence hall, which houses 190 students. Total undergraduate enrollment is 3,910.

The downtown Pittsburgh campus of Point Park University is also experiencing growth and expansion. The Post-Gazette reports that the University’s urban park is the latest portion of the “academic village initiative,” a bold expansion and renovation plan that was announced in 2008. The first phase was installation of a new student center, construction of a new gym and conversion of two eight-story buildings into student housing.

The Post-Gazette also reports that the University of Pittsburgh trustees panel recently authorized construction of a 10-story freshman residence hall and a five-story addition to facilitate relocation and growth of research in the Graduate School of Public Health. The new residence hall on Fifth Avenue and University Place will have 559 beds, Pitt officials said. Retail space will occupy the first floor, and the second floor will include wellness center space for student health services and the counseling center.The addition will give Pitt a total of 8,000 undergraduate beds, helping the school with student recruiting.

Carnegie Mellon University is also planning for the expansion.  The school also hopes to build an office and research facility on newly-acquired properties next to the Carnegie Museums, and school officials  have also asked the Planning Commission to re-zone new properties in that area so it could build higher-capacity student housing along its western perimeter.  Essential Public Media reports that CMU Director of Design Bob Reppe said while the school’s undergraduate population has held steady at about 5,700, its post-graduate population has ballooned over the past decade.  “It’s conceivable that in the lifespan of this next Master Plan that we’ll have an equal number of graduates and undergraduates on our campus,” said Reppe. “…we want to do things like maximize our recent investments and be able to get the most out of the property — preserve the core, but also start to build up higher densities around the outside of the core.”

Posted on February 10, 2012, in Economy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Colliers International Launches National Student Housing Practice Group as Student Housing Expansion Demands Grow.

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