Much like the millions of incoming freshmen across the country, there’s a new development company on the student housing scene looking to make a good first impression.
Utah-based Homestead Development Partners was formed earlier this year by three men who have worked together in the industry for years – Michael Augustine, Evan Schwartz, and Jared Miller – and California-based Columbus Pacific Properties, which is a partner and serves as the “in-house” capital provider. Augustine oversaw the development of Multifamily Executive’s Student Housing Development of the Year in 2012, the Campus Circle Tallahassee, while Miller was involved on the management side.
Homestead Development currently has its first student housing project under construction just outside the Mississippi State University campus in Starkville, Miss., and Miller, the company’s managing director of asset management & operations, thinks it’s going to be a game-changer.
“It doesn’t feel like a typical student housing community,” he says. “It feels more like a high-end hotel.”
HELiX Starkville, a 258-unit complex comprising 802 student housing beds in one-, two-, and four-bedroom floor plans directly across the street from campus, will open in fall 2016.
“One of the things that sets it apart is the sheer size of the amenity package at HELiX,” says Miller, Multifamily Executive’s Rising Star of the Year winner in 2010. The clubhouse alone, Miller notes, will be 13,000 sq. ft. and feature a study lounge, coffee bar, and two-floor a fitness center that Miller says will “without doubt” be the “best fitness center in town.”
HELiX Starkville will be held by Homestead Development, but Homestead-U, an affiliated management company based in Columbus, Ohio, will run its day-to-day operation with 12 full-time employees.
“The one thing that’s unique about us, and you’ll see it with HELiX Starkville, there’s just so much more thought put into the development process," Miller says. "When we deliver our amenities space, it’s going to be, by far, the most unique in the market. I think that trend will continue.”
The company announced another amenity last month when it struck a deal with Skullcandy, a lifestyle and performance audio brand “inspired by the creativity and irreverence of youth culture” that launched in 2003. The partnership, which was in the works for 18 months, will feature HELiX events and amenities powered by Skullcandy, as well as co-branded giveaways for residents.
“I can’t wait for the students at Mississippi State University, and students at our future communities in other markets, to benefit from this partnership on top of everything else we offer to provide our unique student living experience,” said Michael Augustine, president of Homestead Development, in a release.
While HELiX Starkville is still being built, Miller says Homestead Development is looking at other development and acquisition opportunities in the student housing and multifamily markets. Miller, who says he could not disclose any locations, shares that Homestead is planning on announcing two or three new projects early next year and start construction soon thereafter. They are also looking to acquire a similar number of properties next year, he adds.
On the student housing front, Miller says they are looking at the top 200 markets across the country to decide their next move.
“It could be that we’re spread coast-to-coast fairly soon,” he says. For acquisitions, Homestead Development is willing to invest in a number of locations. “There’s not a geographic focus there,” he adds. “It really comes down to where we believe that the strongest opportunities are.”
Homestead Development has three full-time employees and they’re all partners in the company. Having a lean operation, Miller says, makes the venture flexible and poised for expansion.
“We’re still a very young company” he says. “The focus for us is to not at all follow the trends, but be the organization that sets them because we are so nimble.”
fall, the industry and public will get its first look at the young company’s