Knightstone has created an internal division focused on developing and operating purpose-built academic mixed use facilities and has become one of the preeminent national leaders in this sector. Knightstone’s core strategy is to:
- Create affiliate relationships with academic institutions focusing on the University’s and/or College’s needs first
- Locate development sites adjacent to or directly on campus
- Create ‘purpose-built’ projects that incorporate leading edge design with student needs in mind
- Retain best-in-class development and operation management teams with vast academic residence experience
Economics, demographics, personal preferences and global competition have converged to trigger a dramatic increase in the demand for appropriate living accommodations in colleges and universities worldwide. Demand for student beds has outstripped supply globally, and Canada is no exception. Academic staff and potential students are factoring the facilities (residence, lecture halls, labs, work space, amenity space) into their selection process.
To support increasing demands for enrollment and to offset the lack of funding for academic and residential facilities, private developers have stepped in to develop projects to meet the needs of the students, parents and the university. Institutions of Higher Education know that their ability to recruit and sustain the growing student population will hinge on their capacity to offer modern learning options that appeal to today’s sophisticated student consumer – one who demands an amenity-rich student living experience consisting of advanced technology, private baths, and resort-style facilities and services.
Knightstone has recognized the opportunity to participate in this exciting niche, while serving the needs of, and partnering with, Canadian Universities and Colleges. In response, we have created a dynamic and exciting business platform to develop and operate high-quality, purpose-built academic mixed-use facilities.
The Student Housing Crisis
Modern residential facilities are in short supply on most, if not all Canadian campuses. Adding to this is the trend to retiring older residences to be able to convert them to academic use – more classrooms, lecture halls, labs, research facilities, etc. – to address the needs of these schools as they seek to accommodate the overflow of students on campus.
This will only make the current housing crisis more dire.
As populations at Institutions of Higher Education continue to rise and the credit market remains tight, there is a prime opportunity for new development where land is available, and where universities and colleges seek partnerships with private developers.
“This is a noteworthy time – the peak of the Baby Boom Echo is right around the corner. The Student Housing sector has matured, gained investor attention, and is now recognized as a distinct niche. ”
~ Mark Schundler, Campus Apartments Inc (March 2008)
Knightstone recognizes academic properties as a property asset class with a bright future – one that is driven by demographic trends, consumer need and tastes, the economic landscape, and a host of many other factors.
Understanding the Student Housing Opportunity
Wherever the need may exist, and where a post-secondary is institution is interested in working with us, Knightstone’s Academic Asset program is ready to go.
We understand that schools either do not have funding available to develop certain academic programs, or have other uses for the scarce funding that they do have. We aren’t looking for the school’s financial involvement – just their support. All we require is information about their needs and their co-operation in bringing a project to fruition. And to that end, we bring our financial resources and expertise, development and operational capabilities, corporate infrastructure and relationships to meet the Academic facility needs of our Canadian College or University partners.
Our track record has illustrated Knightstone’s ability to be creative with deal structures and financing opportunities. We see the best opportunities at campuses in urban settings, where the schools are experiencing rapid enrollment growth and at those institutions with the most competitive enrollment standards. However, there are niche opportunities to be found at smaller institutions where funding is low and housing demand is high or the institution is looking for a satellite urban presence.
Knightstone’s Approach to Student Housing
- Does the school need student beds?
- Does the school currently operate student residence(s) on or off campus?
- Does the school have land that it has allocated or can allocate to a new student housing development OR is there land available nearby that we can purchase for this purpose?
- Is the school amenable to partnering with us to accomplish their student housing objectives?
Based on the information we gather, we will take our assessment to the next stage, to provide input into an overall approach and project plan. This will include analysis of the following items:
Determine Economic Feasibility
- Availability and cost of land
- Number of beds required/number of students overall
- Construction costs
- Residence costs – Standard costs per bed
- What is the school’s mid to long term business plan/enrolment strategy/objectives?
- Will the school require/be interested in a master lease?
- Based on the above, we will establish measurable criteria that will help us decide on the overall viability of a project.
- If there are factors that would impede a project from moving forward, yet the needs are apparent, we will work with the school to determine if we can remediate the unhelpful influences and create the conditions for a successful project.
- Our Team would recommend a relationship structure and move forward with detailed planning based on the criteria outlined during our needs analysis.
The Knightstone Solution – Inspired Student Living
The subject of student residences can spark mental images of the dormitory facilities of the past, which still exist today: sparse and square, non-descript rooms with walls made of concrete block, painted institutional beige, blue or green, with linoleum tile or high traffic carpet flooring, and plain laminate furniture. These types of university or college owned and operated dwellings have always been and continue to be in limited supply – only the “lucky ones” were able to get a dormitory placement.
Those who weren’t so lucky to find a school-owned space were forced to scour the surrounding areas in rooming houses, apartments and flophouses, or to find an apartment or room a long distance from campus – meaning a lengthy commute by foot, car, bicycle or public transit.
“Living the student life” can be a spartan existence – a rite-of-passage for college or university students who will later reminisce having survived a residential experience that has often been described as unclean, unsafe and lacking privacy.
But this trend has quickly changed as a newer generation of students enroll in universities and colleges. This cohort comes to school armed with a different set of expectations, shaped by having grown up with their own bedrooms or bathrooms and having been provided amenities that may not have been given to students of years past.
These expectations, taken together with security, cost and cleanliness as their parents’ hot buttons, have created consumers that seek a student residence experience at a level that corresponds to their home life.
Consistent with many of the recently-built residences in the US and western Europe, Knightstone is bringing to Canada an amenity-rich campus living experience that addresses the tastes and preferences of this generation of parents and students. Our vision is to develop safe, clean and stylish student dwellings that advance the feel of a student community and that strongly promote the integration of academic objectives with campus life.
We have partnered with experts in the field to ensure that our building infrastructures and the people, organization and systems required to support them are consistent with our vision.