Student housing developer broadens its reach into multifamily

Aspen Heights Partners evaluates seven metros for its initial projects.

December 23, 2015 |
Student housing developer broadens its reach into multifamily

At 658 feet, The Independent will be the tallest building in Austin, Texas.

Aspen Heights Partners, a nine-year-old developer based in Austin best known for its student housing projects, is expanding into multifamily and condo development and construction in several markets.

The company has raised over $1 billion in capital, and is seeking land and equity partners to develop and build six multifamily housing buildings in metros with high demand and occupancy rates. Its initial targets are Denver, Raleigh, Atlanta, Nashville, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Orlando.

“We have always believed there are opportunities in the Millennial sector, and increasing opportunities with baby boomers, more of whom are becoming renters,” says Kevin Wisdom, Aspen Heights’ Executive Vice President, in an interview with BD+C.

Among the eight projects that Aspen Heights currently has under construction is The Independent, a 58-story multifamily high rise that, at 658 feet, would be the tallest building in Austin and the tallest residential structure west of the Mississippi River. The $300 million tower will include 370 luxury condos and 13,500 sf of retail space, as well as a dog park, children’s area, pool and spa, fitness center, yoga and barre studio, and theater.

 

Also under construction is a 22-story building with 196 apartments on 8th and Nueces Streets in Austin, scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2016; and a project in South Austin comprised of six 3- and 4-story buildings with a total of 345 garden-style apartments (pictured). 

 

Also under construction is a 22-story building with 196 apartments on 8th and Nueces Streets in Austin, scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2016; and a project in South Austin comprised of six 3- and 4-story buildings with a total of 345 garden-style apartments. It begins leasing in late 2016.

The firm’s move into multifamily is occurring as this sector’s construction activity continues to drive the nation’s residential building activity. The number of privately owned housing units started in structures with five or more units rose by 21.3% in November to an annualized rate of 398,000 units, according to the latest Census Bureau estimates. Multifamily permits were up 38.9% to 539,000 units, and multifamily completions jumped 25.4% to an annualized 306,000 units.

But Aspen Heights is entering a very crowded field. In Greater Atlanta, 11,000 new multifamily apartments are underway and 11,500 more are in planning stages. Alliance Residential, for example, just started construction on Broadstone Ridge, a five-story mixed-use development within walking distance of the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area and the new Atlanta Braves stadium. When it opens in 2017, Broadstone Ridge will feature 277 apartments and 8,000 sf of ground-floor retail space.

Aspen Heights reportedly has put a parcel of land under contract in either the Buckhead or Midtown neighborhood of Atlanta for a 250-unit high rise. Wisdom is quoted as saying that this would be one of two multifamily projects that his firm wants to build in ATL.

Wisdom tells BD+C that his company “has a preference” for high-density multifamily in “urban-pedestrian environments.” However, it is also looking for infill opportunities that might not necessarily be high rises.

As for competition, Greg Henry, Aspen Heights’ founder and CEO, says that his firm believes it can apply its student housing expertise to multifamily, which presumably would include open floor plans, natural lighting, and upscale kitchens and bathrooms, with the homes themselves integrated into walkable urban areas.

Wisdom tells BD+C that his firm’s products will differentiate themselves by their architectural design and services. Among the design firms Aspen Heights Partners is working with are Merriman Associates/Architects, Rohde & Associates, and GFF in Dallas.

Long term, Aspen Heights Partners has aspirations of being a national multifamily developer and builder, he says.

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