June 18, 2014 | Week 25
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Asset Campus Housing Managing 370-Bed Community in Tallahassee  
ACH Tallahassee
GrandMarc At Tallahassee.

Tallahassee, Fla.
- Asset Campus Housing has been selected to manage GrandMarc at Tallahassee. The 370-bed property was built in 2009 and is adjacent to the Florida State University campus. The community offers 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-bedroom floor plan options. Here's more.
ForRent.Com Research: Internet Top Amenity Among Apartment Renters 

Norfolk, Va.
- ForRent.com has just published research about which apartment amenities can make the biggest difference to renters. Among them are rooms with a view, with unobstructed views yielding an approximately 12 percent higher premium than those without. Even the direction your apartment faces can affect the value, according to the site. South-, east- and west-facing apartments are more valuable than those facing north because of sun exposure. According to the conventional multifamily renters surveyed, high-speed internet was by far the most important amenity, with in-suite washers and dryers, a fitness room and package drop-off and storage following behind.
A Dash Of Color Turns Around A Texas State Community  

By most measures, University Heights II in San Marcos, Texas, was relatively unremarkable when The Woodlark Companies began managing the community in early 2011. The owners, a TIC group, had designs on raising rents in a heated climate for student housing, characterized by an overabundance of new development, with some 8,000 new beds hitting the market in the past three years - most of them much closer to the Texas State University campus than University Heights II. The 672-bed property, built in 2004, was something of a vintage product. It was well occupied, thanks to healthy yearly growth at TSU, but wasn't performing as it could have been. Word of mouth among students was less than positive.


"The owners were concerned that San Marcos was going through a strong growth phase, and the time to act was now," says Derrick Milam, chief operating officer for The Woodlark Companies, whose property management division was expanded in 2012. "The property was well-occupied, but the owners questioned why their rents weren't increasing."


Milam says Woodlark's strategy involved focusing on NOI. "If you're leased up to 100 percent, but your NOI is not that high, the property doesn't produce cash flow. We discussed with them how to bring down their expenses and how we would help them push rents more aggressively."


One of the pieces of that plan involved physical improvements to help University  Heights II stay abreast with their newer competition. Woodlark pitched a plan that involved rolling out capital improvements little by little over a period of several years so the owner didn't have to spend a lot of money all at once. A substantial investment was made in the fitness center, and other target areas would include the addition of wood flooring, contemporary furnishings and a consistent appliance replacement rotation to compete with some of the stainless-steel-appliance offerings in the market.


But these cosmetic improvements weren't the main driver of the property's dynamic turnaround. "Once we made changes to the fitness center, word got out, but we didn't see a substantial increase in leasing velocity just because of that," says Regional Manager Erin Sunderland. "We realized we didn't have the best amenity package, and we're not the closest to campus. In fact, we're the farthest. So internally we decided we had to launch a campaign that created a massive buzz in the market. We needed to get people talking positively about this community."


Sunderland says the management team aspired to host events and socials that weren't the types of events common to student housing property management. Partnering with the university became a priority to foster academic growth in residents, as did embracing a renewed customer service/hospitality approach to resident, and parent satisfaction.


Regional Leasing and Marketing Manager Gina Mazzella connected the proximity of the property to a Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Texas location and dedicated a multipronged effort to raise money for the local club and to inspire residents to connect to their community. Her vision of a 5K began to take shape. She took to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to drum up excitement for the run, as well as creating a website dedicated solely to the event. Woodlark says the anticipation and desire to be part of a good cause increased the property's Facebook likes. The team also partnered with the university as well as vendors within the community to drive donations and create awareness, and Woodlark says these partnerships began to leave a footprint across social media.


Click here to read about the impact of the race, Color for the Cause, a "color run" that involves participants being blasted with a dust-based colored paint every time they complete a portion of the run. 

InterFace On-Campus Housing Conference to be Held November 5-7 in Orlando 

Orlando, Fla. - The 2nd Annual InterFace On-Campus Housing conference will be held November 5-7 at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel in Orlando. The event will once again bring together college and university housing and business officers, and on-campus developers, operators and vendors, for high-value education and information sharing, in addition to valuable networking opportunities. Project tours at the University of Central Florida will be "back by popular demand."


Last year's inaugural InterFace On-Campus Housing conference attracted over 260 attendees and received extremely positive reviews from both college and university officials, as well as operators and vendors. Please "save the date" now and put InterFace On-Campus Housing in your calendar. Here is the timeline of the event:


November 5th: Opening Networking Reception, 5:00-7:00 pm


November 6th: Conference 8:00 am-4:30 pm, Networking Reception 4:30-6:15 pm


November 7th: Project Tours at University of Central Florida, 8:30 am-Noon


And perhaps stay the weekend and enjoy some time at Disney.


The conference agenda is in the planning stages and registration will be available soon. For now, please put the November 5-7 dates in your calendar and if you would like to be notified when registration becomes available, please contact Alicia Lewis at (404) 832-8262 or alewis@francemediainc.com. For speaking or sponsorship information, please contact Richard Kelley at (914) 468-0818 or rkelley@francemediainc.com. For exhibiting opportunities, please contact Mark Aden at (404) 832-8262 or maden@francemediainc.com.

Campus Suites Integrates Roommate-Matching Technology Into Operations

Winter Garden, Fla. - Campus Suites will implement roommate-matching technology that evaluates likes, dislikes, behaviors and personality. Roommate Connect, which is produced by a cloud-based technology company called Compatibility, uses data about students to form an algorithm intended to more accurately suggest matches and provide tailored communication tools for each student. According to Campus Suites, which owns and operates, or is in the process of developing, approximately 13,900 student housing and conventional bedroom suites throughout Canada and the United States, matching compatible roommates increases the odds students will return the following year. Compatibility has also provided a French translation for use in Canada.
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