LOS ANGELES, CA-The demand for higher quality housing has begun to rise as the children of Baby Boomers head off to college, Jeffrey Tamkin, president of Los Angeles-based Tamkin Development, told GlobeSt.com last week. “The age of double loaded corridors, community bathrooms and concrete block dorm rooms is long gone,” says Tamkin, whose national real estate development firm specializes in the financing and building of student housing.

In fact, says Tamkin, most colleges now see student housing more as a marketing tool for attracting new students to their campuses than as a sheer revenue generator; they recognize that modernized student housing can be the determining factor for students trying to decide which school to attend.

“We’ve found that today’s students want the comforts of home but still want to feel like they’re part of a larger community,” says Tamkin. “For example, all of our projects now include amenities like private bathrooms, high-speed Internet access, and common study areas. It’s a tricky balance between providing quality features and still keeping the cost in a range that the average student can afford, but we’re finding creative ways of meeting both of these needs.”

The returns are similar to other multifamily projects, but require higher maintenance reserves due to student activities and are more management intensive. The turnover is greater and occupancy is sometimes nine months, not the normal 12 months. The cost per bed as a national average is approximately $35,000, with regional variables being labor and material costs, weather and land supply. Rents can range from $300 to $700 per bed, per month.

The developers now providing student housing typically started as multi-family developers, says Tamkin, and then created special divisions for on-campus and off-campus housing. He adds there is a not insignificant barrier to entry for on campus development with colleges, as these institutions usually require the developer to have a three-to-five-year track record of financing, designing, constructing and managing student housing.

Looking specifically at California, Tamkin says budget limitations by the state have caused a major decline in actual construction of new units by state colleges and universities, such that right now “most dollars are being spent on renovation and maintenance of existing housing.”

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