Some UA student housing complexes, transitioning to conventional housing

More than 1,500 brand new beds were added between new housing units near university within the year.
Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 9:52 AM MST|Updated: Oct. 14, 2021 at 2:49 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As more students at the University of Arizona are choosing to live close to campus, some student housing complexes outside the university are transitioning to conventional housing to keep their units filled.

Mike Chapman, Senior Vice President of NAI Horizon, said both the Cadence near Fourth and Congress and Sonoran Reserve near Broadway and Starr Pass are in the process of transitioning their student housing complexes to conventional housing.

Chapman said what makes student housing and conventional housing different is that student housing rents by the room. Plus, they typically have four to five bedrooms and numerous bathrooms per unit.

Conventional renters don’t tend to need that much space, so Chapman said if students aren’t renting out rooms, student housing units often sit empty.

“Currently there are 26 purpose built student housing complexes in Tucson, and 9 of those are University adjacent,” Chapman said. “The rents in those developments are higher costs and they primarily cater to out of state students who pay quite a bit higher tuition to attend the university and are probably more affluent.”

More than 1,500 brand new beds were added between new housing units near university within the year. Chapman said those units are assumed to be filled and have been successful in years past. Rent tends to cost anywhere between $700 to $1800 per room.

“With the advent of this new development, it has been little by little luring students from the outlying properties closer to campus due to the difficulty of parking. That alone is pretty tough,” Chapman said. “You oftentimes have to have other modes of transportation, parking permits if you are at the more distant properties. It’s been continuing to happen and it’s a nationwide trend going on.”

Demand has increased and will continue to increase, but Chapman said there still is a lot of demand that isn’t university adjacent due to cheaper rent and more parking space.

He noted the 14 to 18 percent increase of rent this last year for multifamily housing. Chapman says he wouldn’t be surprised if some apartment complexes start housing both students and traditional tenants in the future to cater to both markets.

“All of a sudden rent in the conventional market are approaching those in the student housing market, allowing some conventional tenants to move into student-oriented properties,” Chapman said.

Overall, Chapman said he understands why outlying properties are making the decision to transition into conventional housing. He said it could end up bringing in more money for those properties who have been struggling in recent years.

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