Student housing with local ties

Selling apartments to out-of-state corporate firms does not benefit students.

In light of construction on new student housing in Dinkytown — and even more proposals around campus — it’s time for developers to show students what they can offer besides just a place to live.

A Minnesota Daily article published Sept. 26 said student apartment complex developers are often quick to sell them to corporate firms soon after they are constructed.

The Opus Group’s new development, the Venue, will be sold to Chicago-based Harrison Street Real Estate Capital upon its completion. Stadium Village Flats was sold to the same firm last year for $43 million.

The problem with out-of-state firms buying up local student housing has to do with where interests lie. Harrison is not likely concerned with establishing local ties. According to its website, “as of September 2013, the firm currently owns more than 250 assets valued at over $4.6 billion which includes over 28,000 student housing beds.” This vast real estate portfolio is spread across the country, including acquisitions in Washington, D.C., and in Long Island, N.Y.

Student housing is appealing primarily because of its relative stability and high reselling power in the real estate market. Firms like Harrison Street aren’t concerned with cultural development in neighborhoods in and around Dinkytown and have no interest in fostering a unique student atmosphere in the area. Simply put, they invest in property, not in communities.

Students serious about maintaining an engaging and unique student atmosphere on campus should support the acquisition and maintenance of these developments by local firms who can encourage community engagement and cultural growth in the area.