Photo: Zach Rolen

Lagoon Inspired

Because of the warm-weather climate, some acreage was transformed into a recreational haven with a 300,000-gallon swimming pool with tanning ledge, hot tub, grilling pavilion, cabanas, swim-up movie screen, bocce and volleyball courts, Ping-Pong, and pet stations. Williams & Associates, an Athens, Ga.–based landscape architecture firm, selected drought-tolerant plants for shade as well as interspersed pocket parks. Wi-Fi, students’ top priority, is everywhere. Parking was also included, since the campus lies 1.8 miles away.

Cottage Charm

Because, originally, single-family homes had stood on the 23-acre site, Landmark had the space for meandering, low-density cottages, a prototype it’s used on other campuses. The two-story cottages were designed in an array of layouts and sizes. The buildings’ façades have flat roofs, colorful stucco sheathing, and front porches, to reflect a Southwest-meets-Craftsman vernacular. Sidewalks provide a connector throughout the site. The warm surroundings help many students transition in their first time away from home.

Upscale Student Living

Not all college students can afford to live in upscale apartment housing. But Atlanta-based developer Landmark Properties recognizes that enough can. Since 2004, the company has catered to this market, developing more than
$1 billion worth of product. Originally, the company focused on “kiddie” condos that parents bought but then realized the demand that existed for rentals. Landmark opened The Retreat near The University of Arizona in Tucson last August, six months after the development was fully leased.

Hip Indoors

The 12,000-square-foot Club Room (pictured) is the indoor go-to student hangout, with pool tables, a cyber café, TVs, a fitness center, study rooms, and more. “The goal was to make it so nice that students wouldn’t have to drive anywhere,” says Wes Rogers, Landmark’s president and CEO. Wood paneling and beams, colorful artwork, and area rugs with red and blue school colors create a warm, lodge-style look. Designer Jill Lung, with Sixthriver Architects in Austin, Texas, picked commercial-grade furnishings that are sophisticated but durable.

Privacy Matters

Developers have found that students want to share an apartment, but not a bedroom and bathroom. Thus, the cottages range from two-bedrooms with two and a half baths to one complex with six bedrooms and six baths. Rents average $500 to $1,200 a month per student throughout the company’s campuses, with prices higher for smaller units, since fewer students share the costs of the living room, dining area, kitchen, and laundry. “Managing the student market is different,” Rogers says. “Units turn in a single week.”