Top Student Amenities for the 2019-20 School Year
Ridesharing and new places for students to study are among the perks student housing providers are rolling out this school year.
As students came back to their off-campus homes this fall, they were greeted with new and renovated student housing communities at many college towns across the country. Many communities featured new and revamped spaces – a result of firms having reevaluated how they think about amenities.
“As with the conventional multifamily market, we are finding that amenity offerings in the student space have become less about checking boxes and more about thoughtful programming with attention to detail,” says Jacob Kosior, National Director of Student Development for The Dinerstein Companies.
Instead of the lazy rivers, golf simulators and tanning beds of years past, student housing operators are renewing the focus on what college kids go to school to do—learn. Additionally, developers and operators are addressing fitness, transportation and socializing remain the focus with these new amenities.
“One of the most in-demand amenities we are focusing on is actually the study areas,” says Brent Little, President of Fountain Residential Partners. “We used to only have dedicated study spaces in and around the clubhouse or leasing area. Now we diversify them throughout the property.”
Little says that in “any little niche or alcove,” Fountain Residential will install seating and dedicated electrical outlets with Wi-Fi access, which also allows the students to use the areas for casual gatherings.
“They are a big hit,” Little says. “In fact, our management says that they have to clean them every day because they have become such high-use areas.”
Studying is also a big focus for The Dinerstein Cos. While the company is addressing that with study rooms, it is increasingly looking for ways in which lounge spaces and club rooms can be configured and designed with studying in mind.
“At our newly opened properties we have been surprised to find so many students doing schoolwork outside of the designated study areas and are looking for ways to adapt more of our amenity spaces to accommodate studying,” says Jacob Kosior, National Director of Student Development for Dinerstein. “This includes tables with outlets and USB ports, an array of seating options and limiting TV installations that could distract from school work.”
While students attend college to learn, interaction is also important. Collier Cos. recognizes that with a clubhouse remodel, which will include an indoor “Outdoor Café,” at Reflection in Tampa. Mike Still, Senior Vice President, Operations for Collier says the renovation should be completed in four months.
“The space was inspired by a lot of rooftop hotels in large cities that have trees and public spaces,” Still says. “Overall, we wanted to create this big city feeling inside. It will have trees, strung party lights, a full kitchen and bar and a picnic area with a cabana and seating spaces.”
Fitness centers are another ripe target for amenities upgrades. Dinerstein is increasingly looking at the programming of its fitness center to identify opportunities to differentiate new deliveries from existing assets in the market and what is being offered at the university gyms. “Fitness lounges with storage spaces, unique equipment pieces, circuit programming and multi-use pieces are our focus for upcoming deliveries,” Kosior says.
The sharing economy is also being incorporating into amenities. At a community it manages in Fayetteville, Ark., Peak offers a Rideshare program, which includes free Uber rides for residents from Wednesday through Sunday each week from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. “Residents are given a unique code for unlimited rides within a five-mile radius of the community,” says Sandra Barfield, Senior Vice President at Peak Campus.
Peak Campus is also opening a Rideshare Lounge in Midtown Atlanta near Georgia Tech. “Residents appreciate having a designated area with flat-screen TV and comfortable seating that is enclosed and has controlled access,” Barfield says.