Adaptive Reuse: Why Consider Converting Existing Buildings into Student Housing

Deborah K. Vick


The need to have for college student housing across the state is steady as at any time, with the Nationwide Multifamily Housing Council estimating that the pupil housing sector will increase from 8.5 million beds in 2020 to 9.2 million by 2031. The continued sector development produces a number of opportunities for setting up house owners to capitalize on renewed desire.   

When new development advancement prospects continue to truly feel fatigue owing to ongoing big scale offer chain and labor issues, a person advantageous strategy for developers and setting up house owners is to take into consideration transforming present belongings into fashionable scholar housing by means of adaptive reuse.

[Related: New Adaptive Reuse Project to Radically Transform Asheville’s River Arts District]

The Gains  

To begin, repurposing an existing composition vs. ground-up growth can produce substantial charge cost savings for homeowners. It not only minimizes the initial capital financial commitment required, but also can help alleviate present-day market challenges all around inflation, capitalization rates, supply chain shortages and raising labor prices. 

An additional variable to look at is timing. Student housing is exceptionally time sensitive—if a job is not introduced on-line 30-45 days forward of the educational 12 months, owners possibly will need to expend added funds on temporary housing lodging for tenants right until their models are finish or builders hazard a hold off in return on investment by keeping the housing stock until eventually the subsequent yr, which most normally is cataclysmic to a project’s success and a developer’s popularity.  

But, if you consider a task by means of the lens of adaptive reuse, the entire style and design technique variations for the reason that tasks aren’t beginning from scratch. Design timelines can be streamlined to assist guarantee the solution is finding to marketplace on agenda and proprietors are yielding optimum returns as they to begin with prepared in their underwriting. 

Also, adaptive reuse opens the doorway for developers to reuse and rehabilitate possibilities that exist on prime campus-adjacent true estate, and when it comes to student housing, place is anything.  

For example, in College or university Station, Texas, in which Texas A&M University is found, website area and cost of land can be prohibitive for numerous making entrepreneurs entering the industry. Kitchen area & Associates worked closely with Haven Campus Communities to completely transform an growing older dormitory asset appropriate up coming to campus that was not only beneath-used, but seriously out of touch with the modern-day scholar.  

By getting a very inventive design approach, we renovated this dilapidated dormitory into a point out-of-the-artwork “market rate” condominium group, now recognised as The Custom at Northgate, that delivers present day living lodging, greatest-in-class facilities, a new amenity courtyard that incorporates a pool/sizzling tub, and a wide range of active and passive outdoor activities. Furthermore, all of this was equipped to be interconnected by means of state-of-the-art property administration engineering. The Custom at Northgate will provide generations of Texas A&M pupils for many years to come and would have hardly ever transpired if the developer did not consider this opportunity via the exceptional lens of adaptive reuse. 

[Related: How to Build Better Buildings]

The Tradition at Northgate 2
The Custom at Northgate features most effective-in-course amenities, which includes a new courtyard with a pool and incredibly hot tub, as properly as a broad selection of out of doors pursuits. Courtesy of Kitchen & Associates.

Sustainability is also a main gain of adaptive reuse, which is not only important to the existing technology of eco-conscious renters but also has several strengths for making entrepreneurs. For instance, repurposing existing buildings and keeping constructing resources, these types of as piping and plumbing programs, on-internet site noticeably reduces the project’s carbon footprint and minimizes demolition particles and creating squander. In actuality, research have found that repurposing constructions can preserve up to 40% in greenhouse fuel emissions. Regional municipalities may well also supply tax credits and other incentives for environmentally friendly tactics and the renovation of pre-existing constructions that are deserted and all set for repositioning.   

When it will come to college student housing, we utilized to always speak about the “amenities arms race”—meaning homeowners are regularly making an attempt to a single-up the competitors to present learners with obtain to the latest and best condominium features. On the other hand, the “amenities arms race” genuinely is not a chatting position anymore owing to a shift in considered about coming up with for a “lifestyle.”  

Using an present local community asset or effectively-known campus creating as student housing allows protect the loaded heritage and custom of the group and college, which can be a differentiator for your property—especially if the developing boasts special characteristics, this kind of as historic windows, uncovered beams or attention-grabbing woodwork, that can be incorporated into the design. Unique characteristics like these are just as much an amenity for the reason that they offer the fashionable student the opportunity to stay in a area that maintains the wealthy “culture” of the campus and encompassing group context. Just like The Tradition at Northgate, when you creatively structure new making attributes to seamlessly weave collectively with a culturally abundant present asset, you seriously end up with a exclusive undertaking that usually stands out from the group.  

Yet another great example is in Burlington Metropolis, New Jersey, the place Kitchen area & Associates served remodel the former Burlington Town Hotel and Tavern into a blended-use apartment neighborhood. Our designers restored the unique character and architectural heritage of the constructing to make it a truly one particular-of-a-type living practical experience, incorporating totally restored initial home windows for maximum natural light, a beautiful oak staircase and even the refurbished tavern and classic bar into the style of the complicated.

Which Buildings Get the job done Best?

So at last, what sorts of present constructions could be a good fit for scholar housing? Public buildings with current plumbing, HVAC and electrical devices created for major industrial use and spaces on or around campus with significant open interiors and captivating historic options. Examples include things like industrial spaces, on-campus dorms and previous university properties. As COVID-19 continues to evolve the way the region lives and works, we also foresee an uptick in the redevelopment of under-used, or in some situations, entirely vacant office parks, even dying buying malls, into amenity-abundant housing possibilities that boast present day way of life possibilities. 

In conclusion, making homeowners need to don’t forget that though adaptive reuse initiatives call for mindful thing to consider and organizing, the economic and environmental positive aspects can undoubtedly outweigh the chance. Nevertheless, it is critically important for owners to function with a experienced architect specializing in asset preservation that truly understands their eyesight and can convey job ideas to life in a very imaginative, efficient and affordable way.

About the Author:

Jason Lutz, AIA, is a Senior Associate at Kitchen & Associates and delivers about 18 years of expert encounter. He co-qualified prospects the University student Housing studio and marketplace method and controls most facets of architectural design and style, task administration, engineering and interior design coordination for all of these jobs together with on and off-campus work, private, function-constructed and general public personal partnership ventures.

Read through upcoming: What is the Carbon Footprint of Interior Renovations?


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