Virtus, Aspen Heights to Build 684-Unit Student Housing Community near University of Oklahoma

Virtus Real Estate Capital has joined forces with student housing development and management company Aspen Heights to build Aspen Heights Norman, a 684-bed cottage-style community near the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla.

Aspen Heights Norman - 1

Virtus Real Estate Capital has joined forces with student housing development and management company Aspen Heights to build Aspen Heights Norman, a 684-bed cottage-style community near the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Okla.

“Aspen Heights Norman is a unique opportunity to find a site in the premier off-campus student housing submarket at The University of Oklahoma that is large enough for Aspen Heights to build their signature cottage-style product,” Kevin White, acquisitions director with Virtus, told Commercial Property Executive.

The Aspen Heights-brand cottage is a duplex-style building featuring anywhere from two to five bedrooms in an enclave that, on first sight, appears to be a collection of single-family homes that could be found in your latest suburban master-planned community. Aspen Heights Norman, as with other Aspen Heights projects, will feature all the extras that students practically demand these days–extras being amenities more frequently enjoyed in luxury apartments.

And there’s a reason why Virtus and Aspen Heights needed a sizeable site for the project: Aspen Heights Norman will offer the largest units in the market.

With its high-end amenities and unusual amount of elbow-room, an Aspen Heights property may stand out among other student-housing offerings in Norman or in other big college towns; however, Virtus, which made its first big splash in the student housing market in 2011 with the launch of its Virtus Student Housing L.P. fund, is well-aware that there’s more to a property’s success than providing students with upscale living accommodations. After all, there’s plenty of competition in the market. According to a report by Axiometrics, 65,000 new beds came online in the privately owned, purpose-built student housing sector this fall, marking a year-over-year increase of approximately 6,700 beds. Virtus is paying attention to the numbers.

“The student housing sector continues to be a focus for Virtus. We believe in the long-term viability of the property type, but are concerned about overbuilding and current valuations in select markets,” White said. “Investors with experience and a high-quality operating partner will continue to find opportunities in the space.”

Overall, the strength of the student housing market endures. Per the Axiomentrics report, the occupancy level at existing off-campus properties was 95.8 percent in September, compared to 93.9 percent in September 2013.

Aspen Heights Norman is on schedule to reach completion in August 2015.