University students looking for a place to live this fall will soon have several new options. A handful of new housing units are either under construction, or soon to be.
Ken Harrigan is building an 18-unit townhouse complex on Sutherland Avenue, called "Sutherland Flats." He hopes the property – just down the street from the new UT rec fields -- will fill with university students.
"This is a really strong neighborhood that's going through a transformation. It's a great location, very convenient," Harrigan said.
Harrigan plans to open his complex by late summer, and hopes to draw those who want front door parking and other amenities.
"You have a ton of UT kids living off campus, [and] the numbers also work better because you have parental guarantees: You can rent by the room generally, one year leases, or sometimes shorter leases for higher rent. So the market for this is strong."
Ricky Gentry, a commercial realtor at Cushman and Wakefield, agrees on that point.
"Student housing is unique in the fact that there's usually no vacancy and no credit loss. Student parents guarantee the rents and the damages which – that's unbelievable. When you look at a piece of property that has no credit loss and no vacancy, it's unbelievable. It's great," he said.
Gentry is a veteran of the student housing market – a buyer, builder, and broker – with his hands in several residential projects near UT throughout the years. He points to one guarantee:
"The walking developments are the premium developments," he said. "As long as you can walk to school, go ahead and build it."
Some companies are looking to do just that.
Austin, Texas-based developer Campus Advantage purchased property in Fort Sanders in order to build student housing on Clinch and Laurel Avenues.
The plan calls for about 300 units in two buildings, plus parking. Campus Advantage expects the facility to open by 2015.
A few streets away on Forest, another Texas-based company is hoping to build apartments, too. American Campus Communitive has applied for a rezoning for a section of Forest Avenue in Fort Sanders. The issue will go before the Metropolitan Planning Commission at their monthly meeting next week.