Kensington’s Ann Arbor Student Housing Community Now Complete; Most Units Leased

The Courtyards Student Apartments, which is owned by Ann Arbor Campus Housing, LLC, an affiliate of Kensington Realty Advisors Inc., recently completed its third and final phase of its 896-bed, off-campus community.

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate Editor

Ann Arbor, Mich.—The Courtyards Student Apartments, which is owned by Ann Arbor Campus Housing, LLC, an affiliate of Kensington Realty Advisors Inc., recently completed its third and final phase of its 896-bed, off-campus community.

“Like many campuses, no new student housing had been built for many years, and students today are looking for a higher level of amenities that are not really provided in many dorms that were built 40 to 50 years ago,” Jim Lee, senior principal at Kensington Realty Advisors Inc., tells MHN.

The first phase of The Courtyards opened in August 2008 with 282 beds, with the second building following in May 2009 with 298 beds. The third building was finished in August 2009.

“This was a planned unit development with ourselves, the University, and the city of Ann Arbor. We inherited most of the planned unit development when we stepped in to purchase the land,” Lee explains. While the project is privately owned, “the tri-party had more to do with how the access to the property ties into city roads, easements that go across university land and requirements for us to have access to the university.”

Designed by Southfield, Mich.-based Neumann/Smith Architecture, the project features three four-story buildings in a community comprised of private bedroom-private bathroom apartments in one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom floor plans. The fully furnished apartments feature full-sized kitchens, in-unit washers and dryers, granite countertops and leather furnishings.

“In our market research, we found what the demographics were—there’s a significant percentage of foreign and grad students, so we looked at a menu of potential things we could provide and went for a premier type of unit. The biggest amenity is that each [bedroom has a] private bathroom,” Lee explains.

Community amenities include park-like courtyards, gas grills and picnic areas, an outdoor badminton court, fitness center, quiet study and meeting rooms, a mini-movie theater with surround-sound, a game room, coffee bar and parking for 500 bikes and 260 cars.

In addition, the university bus system stops at the front door of the development, with the city bus stopping at the site’s back door, notes Jim Smith, managing principal at Kensington Realty Advisors.

The project has leased nearly 95 percent of its units. “We are glad we are involved in student housing, because it’s not been affected by this economic downturn,” says Smith. “It’s much more resilient and a nice diversification for investors.”

As Lee also notes, it also helps that the majority of bedrooms have been leased via the Internet, site unseen.

Shortly after The Courtyards broke ground in the spring of 2007, a number of other student housing initiatives took shape, including the North Quad Residential and Academic Complex on campus, and two privately held 10-story apartment projects in Ann Arbor.

When the project broke ground, “In Ann Arbor, there weren’t other properties that were leasing by the bedroom,” Smith adds. “We started that—now there are others. It’s been well-received by students and parents.”

Allen & O’Hara Education Services Inc., the property management subsidiary of Education Realty Trust Inc., is managing the property.