(Carl Cronan is editor of Real Estate Florida.)

ORLANDO, FL-Inland American Communities Group Inc. plans to build student apartments on a 10-acre tract it owns at 3100 North Alafaya Trail, a half-mile from the University of Central Florida campus. Construction on the two-phase project will begin early next year, with 416 units set to open in time for fall semesters in 2010 and 2011.

Projected costs are not being released for the Orlando complex, which is being called University House-Central Florida. Dallas-based Inland American has 10 student-apartment projects nationwide, including a 185-unit complex near the University of Florida in Gainesville called University House-13th Street.

“Our communities provide new, high-quality housing to meet the demand for off-campus living among students across the country, and incorporate the best of residential living and cutting-edge amenities for the ultimate living and learning experience,” Rachel Kihn, Inland American vice president of marketing, tells GlobeSt.com. She adds that the UCF project will be substantially larger than the one that opened this past fall at UF and will reflect local market conditions and demands.

Accommodating nearly 1,000 residents, University House will offer various amenities that appeal to college students, such as a multimedia lounge, fitness center, swimming pool, basketball and sand volleyball courts, a putting green and a study area. The apartments themselves will be fully furnished with rent including utilities, cable TV and high-speed Internet access.

Rents for student apartments are charged per resident, rather than for an entire unit, which helps roommates and their parents, says Dorothy Jackman, associate vice president investments with Marcus & Millichap in Tampa who specializes in college housing. She says proximity of the units to campus is important, though some students would rather be farther away.

“Close-to-campus developments are still seen as desirable, but there is an element of the student population, such as seniors, who want to be farther away when their classes are over,” Jackman tells GlobeSt.com. “They want to be somewhere that it’s quiet and away from the hoopla on campus.”

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