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MINNEAPOLIS-Lowe Enterprises Investors has purchased the Melrose StudentSuites Housing Portfolio that includes a 278-unit residential complex near the University of Minnesota.

The deal–Lowe’s first venture into student housing–is comprised of four private, off-campus student housing communities totaling 4,138 beds in 1,297 units. The other properties are in Jacksonville and Gainesville, FL, and in College Station, TX. All of the properties operate under the Melrose StudentSuites brand name. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Minneapolis complex consists of a 278-unit, 932-bedroom community with four nine-story towers set on nearly three acres, and includes tanning beds and a Melrose cafe. The Melrose residential community is located at 2508 Delaware St. SE, about a quarter of a mile from the University of Minneapolis.

United Campus Housing, a developer and manager of student housing projects nationwide, assumed management of the Melrose properties in 2002, is a partner in the deal and will continue as manager. Lowe’s other partner in the deal was Blue Vista Sponsor Equity Fund.

Colleges and universities will be expected to add student housing as enrollments rise. The US Department of Education forecasts a 19% increase in college enrollments by 2013 over 2000. “Private developers are stepping in,” says Bleecker Seaman, managing director of Los Angeles-based Lowe Enterprises.

The other properties in the deal are a 360-unit, 1,092-bedroom garden-style complex with 26 three-story buildings spread across some 34 acres in Jacksonville, located 1.5 miles from the University of North Florida and is near five other college campuses; a 312-unit, 990-bedroom complex with 27 three-story buildings set on close to 32 acres Gainesville, about five miles from the University of Florida; and a 348-unit, 1,092-bedroom community with 25 three-story buildings set on 31 acres in College Station, about half a mile from Texas A&M University.

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