Construction will begin this month on Circle West Campus, a student-housing development within walking distance of the University of Texas, with the first units to be ready by June 2012. The project—a 167-unit community of studios, one-, two- and four-bedroom apartments—represents the first student-housing development for Crescent Resources. Todd Farrell, president of Crescent Resources Multifamily Development Group, talks to MHN about what Crescent will bring to the project.
MHN: Crescent Resources is very proud of its apartment-living concept, and seems excited to be bringing this concept to student housing. What is it that is innovative about this approach?
Farrell: Beyond sharing an address, Circle West Campus residents will share the sense that their community is part of a bigger one–a place with purpose and a commitment to the environment. Through community programming, roommate matching and outreach, we strive to give every resident a shared experience in being part of the community. Circle West Campus is a place where you can feel good about living well–a launching pad for your way of life. Additionally, Crescent’s Circle brand has a historical commitment to environmental sustainability, matching the Austin Energy Green Building initiative.
MHN: Tell us about some of the amenities that Circle West Campus will have and how you expect students to respond to these amenities. Also, what is it about tanning beds that seems to be included in so many student-housing communities these days?
Farrell: The property will have one of the largest courtyard areas in the West Campus market, including a zero-entry pool, grilling station and fire pit. We understand the courtyard will double as a study space, and we have anticipated this need by providing electric outlets and wireless Internet access. As another way of providing more for our residents, tanning beds will be a preferred amenity. For busy students with full class and work schedules, the tanning beds will provide a definite convenience.
MHN: How does Crescent Resources prepare for the student-housing turnover period? Obviously that period can be intense, with a large portion of residents flipping at the same time.
Farrell: Our property management company, Greystar, provides seasoned professionals with the knowledge and ability to make turnover periods as seamless as possible. Also, all entryways at Circle West Campus will be equipped with programmable locks. Simply updating our computer system will instantly change locks during a turnover, which eliminates the most time-consuming task of a flip.
MHN: At the NAA Student Housing Conference this year, several speakers talked about how college students expect high-speed Internet access to be available the day they move in. How do you approach this?
Farrell: High-speed Internet access will be provided for residents from the day we open. Individual residences will be hardwired for high-speed Internet, and wireless access will be provided throughout the community as a standard amenity. As soon as a resident plugs in their computer or connects to the wireless network, they will have Internet service. No service call is needed. We are also working closely with our consultants to ensure that all wiring installed at Circle West Campus will be capable of upgrading to higher-speed data lines as they become available.
MHN: College students have proven to be a different kind of resident, especially in the role that social media plays in their lives. Will social media be a part of the way you communicate with and market to students?
Farrell: Absolutely. Social media is already the standard for reaching our target audience. Everything we do will either use social media directly or incorporate it as a supporting force. Residents and prospects will be able to interact with us on Facebook without leaving our website. Our Facebook page will be a place where residents can communicate with staff and fellow residents, enhancing the sense of community. We will monitor and respond in near real time in order to provide a personal service experience. Even traditional print flyers will be socialized using a unique QR codes program for smartphone users.