LAS VEGAS—While some companies, like Landmark Properties, arelooking at adding amenities galore to their properties, others likeEdR, for example, are a bit more conservative. Representatives fromthose companies and others were among panelists on a “Design,Development and Construction Trends” panel at RealShare StudentHousing on Thursday.

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According to Joshua J. Wilson, VP ofdevelopment at EdR, his company focuses on thingslike a private bath and having no double occupancy. JasonDoornbos, SVP of development at LandmarkProperties, on the other hand, said that his firm is goingfor the wow factor in its amenity packages. “We have done spas inour projects, pools, and we are constantly trying to come up withthat best new amenity to include in our clubhouses.”

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In a preview article before the event, moderator GregFaulkner, president of Humphreys & PartnersArchitects, told GlobeSt.com that one thing he has seen alot of lately are what he deems “amenities on steroids.” Accordingto Faulkner, “these are resorts versus housing,” fully equipped withrooftop bars, seating, pools with lazy rivers, cyber cafes andsocial areas, concierge services, poolside yogurt service and more.“There are not apartments or dorms, think Hyatt Regency.”

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Jake Newman, SVP of American CampusCommunities, pointed out that the location of a studenthousing project is what helps determine the amenities needed. Twofocuses for his company is having a state-of-the-art fitness centeras well as internet connectivity.

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And to help send a message to the parents that it is a livingand learning environment, American Campus Communities also tries toincorporate study rooms in its properties.

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What is important to consider, according to JamieSwick, CEO and owner of Integrity Period,is taking a real examination in what the students do in their sparetime to help determine what you are offering in terms of storage.“Do they need bike storage or are they storing kayaks on all theircars?” How you use your green spaces is also key, she said.

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Doornbos talked about the importance in creating an atmosphere,like a Starbucks—with high back booths, dark paneling, café baretc.—noting that it "creates a good vibe” and “shows great.”

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When talking about unit mixes, panelists were split on whetherconsistency was key, or whether having a variety of different unitshelped create a sense of urgency when students look to sign leases.For Doornbos, having a variety of different unit types help studentcome in and pick what works for them. Newman said it is importantto be “consistent with our product size, bathroom layout andbedroom size.”

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When it comes to your floor plan engineering, while Swick feltthere is a need for double-occupancy rooms across the country, ithas to be done very gently. “I prefer it in two-bedroom units. Idon't like to see it in three or four-bedroom floor plans.”

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What is also important, Swick added, is to find out if studentsprefer to have a larger bedroom, or do they prefer to have more ofa living room area. “Finding out how students want to use theirspace is key.”

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When asked about challenges, aside from risingconstruction costs, Newman said that dealing withextensive entitlement processes and getting through it all waschallenging. “We are also seeing some hefty tax bills,” hesaid.

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For Wilson, one challenge is finding the sites at the schoolshis company wants to build at. “Many times the sites are so smallthat it justifies a high-rise, but the rents in that market don'tjustify a high-rise.

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One of the forecasts that Swick mentioned to GlobeSt.com in apreview article for the event was that “Hybridcommunities are next on the horizon where Millennialsand students are housed together.” Swick noted that markets likeDeland, FL, are an example of “where you have a small school withno off campus housing for a very affluent student base and nohousing for the work force serving the schooleither.” Individually, she says, “the target markets might notbe sufficient to secure financing but together they are a slamdunk.”

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Natalie Dolce

Natalie Dolce, editor-in-chief of GlobeSt.com and GlobeSt. Real Estate Forum, is responsible for working with editorial staff, freelancers and senior management to help plan the overarching vision that encompasses GlobeSt.com, including short-term and long-term goals for the website, how content integrates through the company’s other product lines and the overall quality of content. Previously she served as national executive editor and editor of the West Coast region for GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum, and was responsible for coverage of news and information pertaining to that vital real estate region. Prior to moving out to the Southern California office, she was Northeast bureau chief, covering New York City for GlobeSt.com. Her background includes a stint at InStyle Magazine, and as managing editor with New York Press, an alternative weekly New York City paper. In her career, she has also covered a variety of beats for M magazine, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, FashionLedge.com, and Co-Ed magazine. Dolce has also freelanced for a number of publications, including MSNBC.com and Museums New York magazine.