Gilbane Completes 4 Student Housing Projects

The company has delivered more than 3,000 beds across developments located in Maryland, Oregon, Georgia and Arizona.
Altus. Photo by Darris Lee Harris for Gilbane Development Co.

Prior to the start of the fall semester, Gilbane Development Co. has delivered more than 3,000 beds at four new student housing projects from Towson, Md. to Corvallis, Ore.

The new student housing communities are the 720-bed Altus, 3 miles from the Towson University campus in Towson, Md.; the 943-bed Apollo, 1,000 feet from Arizona State University’s campus in Tempe, Ariz.; the 228-unit Sierra, adjacent to the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis, Ore.; and the 656-bed Bixby, at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga.

“Each one of the projects we delivered in 2020 has a very strong university with growing enrollment,” Russell Broderick, senior vice president & head of the student housing division at Gilbane Development Co., told Multi-Housing News. “The properties also have close proximity to campus.” The firm’s new and existing student housing portfolio leased to 97 percent occupancy as of August 2020. Last month, a Gilbane official spoke of universities’ on-campus housing challenges.

Move-in, building hurdles

The company faced three major pandemic-related hurdles in attempting to meet the pre-academic year deadlines for completion.

The first involved leasing and operations. “In March, we still had a significant number of leases to be signed and tenants to attract” at the onset of COVID-19, Broderick said. “Within a week (of onset), we went to virtual tours through the construction projects and leasing offices, and we held online events. The teams did a great job on that side in leasing.”

A second headwind came at the end of the leasing period. “Normally, move-ins would be undertaken within a couple days,” Broderick said. “But we phased in the move-ins. Those moving in were accommodating in shifting their move-in days (to benefit others). The property management staffs on site did a great job of coordination of those move-ins within the context of COVID-19 safety.”

Construction challenges involving labor and materials shortages varied from one geographic location to the next. Few problems plagued the Towson site.

“In Georgia and Arizona in June and July, we did have impacts from labor shortages, but we were able to overcome that by bringing in additional crews,” Broderick said. “We had some materials challenges as well. For instance, we had a factory that closed down and at the last minute we had to shift manufacturers of appliances. Gilbane has a supply chain management group, and we were able to procure other appliances through that group.”