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The Growing Student Housing Industry



Karen Jordan,

Universities can be economic engines, and student housing has become a big player in commercial real estate as a result, driving investment and development.

The industry has changed from friends-and-family capital to being very institutional, according to Pierce Education Properties CEO Fred Pierce.

Student housing’s biggest challenge on the ground-up side is timing, according to Josh Vasbinder, The Dinerstein Co.’s West Coast partner

Those who build student housing “realize the sensitivity and the stress to deliver that project when the students show up,” Vasbinder said.

It requires working backward to figure out the deadline for when the school will open at the beginning of the school year and then factoring in the number of years it will take to build and the amount of time it will take to permit and entitle the project, Vasbinder said.

Kim Wright, The Scion Group’s director of advisory services, told the crowd of more than 250 people at a recent SoCal Student Housing event that student housing is more of a hospitality industry these days. “Students are looking for an experience,” she said.

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