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ORLANDO-The 37-year-old University of Central Florida, which projects its 45,000-student body will grow to 50,000 in the next five years, has emerged as the area’s biggest student housing landlord, according to a new industry survey by locally based Smith Equities Corp.

UCF plans to build 2,450 beds over the next three years, growing its existing inventory of 1,178 beds at Pegasus Landing and Pegasus Pointe to a total 3,628 beds. Smith Equities puts the total on-campus rental housing at 4,656 beds and the total off-campus housing at 4,710 beds.

The main campus in east Orange County, about 15 miles from Downtown, will see 2,000 new beds. The Rosen School of Hospitality, a new academic division of UCF 15 miles south of the main campus, will receive 450 beds this year.

“The school will deliver 500 beds at the main campus for the 05/06 school year; 1,000 for the 06/07 school year and 500 the year after that,” Paul M. Guyet, a student housing specialist and broker at Smith Equities, tells GlobeSt.com. “The 500 beds on campus were filled by early June.”

But leasing activity at the Rosen School of Hospitality site is not as active, “apparently because its location is so far way from the main campus,” Guyet says. Another off-campus student housing complex of about 600 beds is scheduled for construction an Orpington Street property, east of the 254-bed Jefferson Lofts. “With any luck, this property may be available for the 06/07 school year,” the broker says.

High occupancies will continue during the next school year, Guyet predicts. “The current average is well over 95% [occupancy] and preleasing for 05/06 is already at 94%, with still a month to fill those vacancies,” he says.

“The student housing business [for investors] continues to be good,” Guyet tells GlobeSt.com. “Rents have remained stable with a little bit of upward movement, generally in the range of 2% to 4% in the apartments that rented by the unit and in the range of 1% to 3% for those rented by the bedroom.”

At its Pegasus Landing property, for example, UCF charges $1,120 per month for a two-bedroom unit, $1,530 for three bedrooms and $1,980 for four bedrooms. At Pegasus Pointe, the university gets $1,090 to $1,180 per month for a two-bedroom apartment and $1,880 for four bedrooms. Electric, cable, local phone and Internet use are included in the furnished unit rents.

“Only time will tell if the [student housing] market can handle this increase of beds,” Guyet tells GlobeSt.com. “My guess is that it will.” He adds, “While attendance is expected to eventually grow to 50,000 students [at UCF], some of that increase will be at satellite schools, not all at the main campus. The big plus about being close to the main campus is that the school is maturing at a rapid pace and more students become resident students, rather than day-hops each year.”

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