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Student Housing Case Study: ON50

Location: Tampa, Florida

University: University of South Florida

Campus Advantage was hired as a third-party manager of ON50, a 444-bed student housing property in South Florida, when a large institution acquired the property with a partner in 2010. Campus Advantage later acquired ON50 in 2014 when the property came up for sale. It was acquired in part due to its excellent location in Tampa, Florida, across 50th Street from the University of South Florida campus. Built in 1998, the property offers one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units and 15 different unit types. The challenge for Campus Advantage was in dealing with this large variety of unit types and placing tenants together within the various units. From a physical standpoint, Campus Advantage also had to find solutions to the issues caused by deferred maintenance.

Upon acquisition, Campus Advantage immediately implemented a value-add strategy to refresh the property. The plan devised by Campus Advantage and sister marketing firm, Catalyst – a real estate marketing specialist agency – included a refreshing of the brand to create a new look and feel, updating the amenity package, and upgrading 30% of apartment units.

To address deferred maintenance, the team replaced all of the roofs, re-painted the entire exterior of the property, cleaned the mature landscaping, and renovated a select number of units to modernize, installing vinyl plank flooring, upgrading bathrooms including vanities, and replacing HVAC systems. A large portion of the $224,000 capital investment went towards improving amenities to meet the expectations of students in the South Florida market, including a complete revamp of the pool area and the addition of an outdoor game area in the courtyards. The completed property now offers a computer lab with free printing, a billiard and study lounge, as well as a community kitchenette with attached event area. The property also offers a full-size outdoor basketball court, an oasis style pool, a resort style hot tub, a 10-acre nature preserve, a hammock garden, and a recreational courtyard with bocce balls, horseshoes, cornhole and ring toss.

To further elevate interest in the property, the marketing specialists at Catalyst worked with the on-site team to revitalize the property’s brand with a vibe the student audience could relate to. As part of the Campus Advantage family of properties, residents were able to enjoy the signature residence life program Students First™, a unique approach to resident living which fosters a dynamic, engaged community and offers a pool of resources to support residents’ journeys to success. The integrated marketing and residence life approach, combined with the capital investment strategy, worked to enhance the overall appeal of the property in the marketplace.

By implementing this unique strategy, Campus Advantage increased the value of ON50 and closed on its sale in April 2017. In the 36 months from its acquisition date to the sale of the property, Campus Advantage achieved Net Operating Income growth of 17.1%, or 5.2% compounded annually. Residents of ON50 were able to benefit from Campus Advantage’s expertise while the company enjoyed a quick and profitable return on its investment.