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As reported in detail at hburgnews, a new student housing complex is one step closer to being built on South Main Street. The 60 acre tract is proposed to feature 466 apartments for college students --- but wait, certainly the developer would first be examining the state of the current student housing market --- right??
Let's take a quick look at what has happened over the past several years in Harrisonburg's student housing market:
In Fall 2007, there was a relatively even balance between JMU students living off campus, and housing available for said students. There were 11,654 students, and approximately the same number of "beds" (bedrooms in apartments, etc) available for those students.
Between Fall 2007 and Fall 2009 the the number of off campus students increased by 382 students. But.... there were 3,313 new beds for these students! This huge increase in housing included new complexes (Charleston Townes, North 38, Campus View Condos, 865 East, Copper Beach, Urban Exchange) and additions to current complexes (Sunchase, new JMU residence hall). This left an off campus vacancy of roughly 20% --- with 12,036 off campus students compared to 14,967 off campus beds for students.
While growth is still occurring at JMU, it is quite slow because of state budget cuts for higher education. Thus, the vacancy rate for Fall 2010 will likely only decline to 18.5%, and per my projections, by the time we get to Fall 2013, there will still be an off campus vacancy rate of 15% --- with 13,090 off campus students compared to 15,387 off campus beds for students.
But it seems that a company out of Glen Allen, VA is ready to jump into this exciting student housing market, add help pump that vacancy rate up even higher. This new community will bring 466 apartments, described as 1, 2 and 4 bedroom apartments, laid out per the site plan below.
Let's assume 1/3 of the apartments are 1 bedroom, 1/3 are 2 bedrooms, and 1/3 have 4 bedrooms. This equates to roughly 1,087 new beds for students. They'd like to have them finished for Fall 2011, which means we'll have 12,588 off campus students available to fill 16,286 off campus beds, shooting us up to 23% off campus vacancy.
But the best part yet --- where will this student housing be located? Next to JMU campus? In the midst of other student housing? No and No. This complex is quite a distance from JMU.
Again, read more at hburgnews, as there are a few detailed comments on that site that explain some of the history of the property.
SUMMARY: Student housing vacancy in Harrisonburg currently hovers around 20%. A developer is planning to build, likely increasing the vacancy rate to 23%. If I were the developer, I would not develop it as a student housing complex in this community at this time.
What are your thoughts? Questions?
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