University of Akron

Akron,

Student Housing Market Assessment

In 2012 B&D was selected by Signet Development to evaluate demand for a new on-campus student housing facility called the Village. At the time, Signet was leading a team comprised of the University of Akron and its development partner, University Village Partners, to create the new residential complex. Targeting sophomores, juniors, and seniors, the initial project concept consisted of 703 beds (a mix of one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom apartment units) in three building types (manor-, loft- and townhome-style). Amenities under consideration included a small fitness room, a café, a club room, a game room, a study lounge, on-site parking, air conditioning, in-unit laundry, and outdoor recreation spaces. To complete this assignment, we utilized the following approach: Focus group interviews were conducted to broadly understand student housing preferences; an off-campus housing market analysis was completed to assess the costs, amenities, occupancy rates, and other key metrics of the local off-campus rental market in Akron; an electronic student survey was developed and distributed to quantify student housing preferences and analyze price sensitivity; and a demand model was developed to project housing demand for the Village by bed type. We identified sufficient demand for the Signet team to move forward with the 703-bed project. When compared to other student-focused properties in Akron, the Village project had two key advantages: an affiliation to the University of Akron and an on-campus location. Providing a mix of unit and building types as planned (one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom units in loft-, manor- and townhouse-style buildings) would cater to a sufficiently wide variety of students. We also presented potential risks to the project, as well as risk mitigation strategies to offset obstacles to the project’s successful development.