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Complex takes out trailer park
University Walk apartments will offer room for 504 beds
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Trailer Park on Lanier Drive being taken out and replaced with an apartment complex. - photo by JAN MOORE/staff

Biz monday 10-23

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    Statesboro's apartment building boom is abundantly evident to anyone who travels the Statesboro Bypass between Highway 67 South and Highway 301 South.
    Both the Exchange at Statesboro, located on Stambuk Lane behind Monster Storage, and Copper Beech, behind Sonny's Barbeque, are nearing completion. Those two complexes alone will bring more than 1,500 new apartment "beds" to the university student housing market when they come on line in the next few months.
    With so many new apartments being constructed coupled with the opening of The Cambridge apartment complex on Lanier Drive this fall,  it might seem foolish to some that construction is set to begin on yet another apartment complex targeting the university student rental market.
    What may seem folly to some is an astute business move, according to the Davis Companies, a multi-family residential development group based in Newberry, Fla.  Site preparations have begun on one of their latest projects, University Walk, a 15-building, 504-bed apartment complex that is going to be built on Lanier Drive across the street from The Cambridge and Sterling University Pines.
    Caleb Cooper, a member of the Davis Companies' acquisitions and development team, said location was the key to his firm's decision to build in Statesboro.
    "If you are in a great location, your complex should do well," Cooper said. "Even given the amount of apartment building that is going on around Georgia Southern, we feel this location is good enough to compete and do very, very well."
    University Walk, the temporary name that has been given to the development, is being constructed on the land of Statesboro resident, Inman Lanier. The site of a mobile home park for many years, Lanier has entered into a long-term lease agreement with the developers.
    Cooper said the location of Lanier's property in conjunction with the moratorium on rezoning land for multifamily development made the decision a sensible one.
    "I don't know that we would have built a complex in Statesboro had we not been able to get such a great location, but the moratorium on top of that really convinced us this was a great market," Cooper said. "Georgia Southern is a top institution in the Georgia's university system, and after doing a market study, we knew we wanted to be there."
    Cooper said construction on the new complex should begin in March of next year with apartments coming available for the 2008-2009 academic year. Cooper is convinced that the demand for new housing will remain high at Georgia Southern.
    "The demand for apartment housing is clearly there," Cooper said. "We see that continuing."
    If Copper Beech is an example of the market's demand for housing, then Cooper's prediction may prove correct. Copper Beech's leasing manager, Margie Williamson, said the rental demand for the 754 bed facility has exceeded projections since a temporary rental office was opened just a few weeks ago.
    "Our first move-in date at Copper Beech is in May, 2007," Williamson said. "At the rate that we have been signing leases, I anticipate that we will be leased out by January 2007 for the 2007-2008 academic year."
    To service the amount of traffic that has been coming into the Copper Beech rental office, Williamson has hired four additional leasing personnel as well as an assistant manager.
    "Frankly, we need all of the help," Williamson said.
    Alison Jordan, owner of Perimeter Properties, a real estate sales, rental, and property management company on Lanier Drive, said she has seen the impact that new apartment complexes can have on the student rental market.
    "Back in 2000 and 2001, four apartment communities were constructed targeting Georgia Southern students," Jordan said. "Those complexes brought over 2000 bedrooms on line for rent. It had a tremendous effect on the market."
    "Units that had rented consistently for $500 dollars per month quickly went down to $350 dollars," she said. "It has taken the last four years to get those rents back up over $400 dollars. Those in our business do not know what the impact is going to be from these new complexes."
    Jordan said the rental community is a little "nervous", but prepared to adjust if the need arises.
    "We set our prices in January so we will just have to see," Jordan said. "Rent prices have been stable because of the continued increase in enrollment. I can't imagine that enrollment is going to increase enough to offset the growth that is occurring now."
    Jordan isn't the only one with an eye on the competition. Michelle Bond is the leasing manager at Campus Club, the largest student housing apartment complex in Statesboro with 964 beds. Located on Lanier Drive next to Paulson Stadium, Bond acknowledges that Campus Club is no longer the "new kid on the block", and that adjustments may have to be made to keep occupancy at 100 percent.
    "It is no secret that students tend to go to the newest place," Bond said. "We know the competition is coming, and I anticipate that we will have some good rent incentives for the next year."
    "We are in the process of planning right now," she said. "My biggest concern is that we are not going to fill our beds. We recognize that it is going to be difficult, and that we are going to have to adjust, but we are prepared to do just that."
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