Landmark’s Giant Student Housing Project Takes Flight

What did the student housing real estate company do this summer? A lot.

By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

What did Landmark Properties do this summer? Well, the student housing real estate company kicked off construction of eight new communities near major universities across the country.

J. Wesley Rogers, Landmark Properties
J. Wesley Rogers Landmark Properties

The developments will yield a total of approximately 3,900 beds and it’s likely that, upon completion, each one of them will be claimed in short order. It’s that kind of market.

“Increasing enrollment and an increasing student preference for purpose-built housing over other housing options are driving demand,” J. Wesley Rogers, president & CEO, Landmark Properties, told Commercial Property Executive.

Two of the assets in Landmark’s group of new projects, the 787-bed Retreat at Gainesville and the 430-unit Standard at Gainesville, will sprout up near the University of Florida. The Retreat brand of properties are communities of detached cottages, while the company’s Standard brand is utilized for its mid- and high-rise projects.

An additional two projects, the 180-bed Stonefire at Berkeley and The Standard at Berkeley, will be erected adjacent to the University of California, Berkeley. Landmark’s latest construction endeavors also include two properties that are being co-developed with collegiate housing developer and manager EdR: the 829-bed Retreat at Blacksburg near Virginia Tech and Phase II of The Retreat at Oxford, a 350-bed property to serve students of Ole Miss University. Rounding out the group are the 801-bed Retreat at College Station near Texas A&M University, and The Metropolitan, a project with 540 beds to accommodate Penn State University attendees.

But there’s more. The aforementioned off-campus housing projects are those that Landmark commenced over the summer; an additional six properties were already under development. All told, the 14 residential communities will encompass 10,000 beds at an aggregate investment of $1 billion.

These aren’t just any off-campus housing developments. Some will incorporate commercial space or retail space and one property, The Standard at Gainesville, will even feature a 144-key hotel.   All of the projects, however, will offer a list of fine amenities that college students have come to expect–a list that can include luxury finishes, state-of-the art game rooms and rooftop swimming pools and the like. Students want what they want, and Rogers anticipates that over the next couple of decades, those desires  will generally include “private living spaces—albeit smaller—while living in close proximity to campus and nightlife and being able to utilize an extensive common amenity package on site.”

The student housing sector continues to flourish and there appears to be no end in sight. According to numbers produced by apartment and student housing research provider Axiometrics Inc., the average fall occupancy level was an enviable 95.3 percent in 2014 and increased in to 96 percent in 2015. Needless to say rents went on the upswing too, growing 2.4 percent.

Eight isn’t enough for Landmark, nor is 14. The developer has an additional development pipeline of more than 20 properties.