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Friday, July 21, 2017

Construction

College town developer to open ‘luxury’ apartments


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Aspen Heights, a new student housing complex, will open in Fall 2017 with 717 beds. | Courtesy of Aspen Heights

National student housing developer Aspen Heights is breaking out of college towns and into the Third Ward, building a new complex on Old Spanish Trail.

The property from the rising student housing group at 4971 Martin Luther King Blvd. is scheduled to house its first University of Houston and Texas Southern University students in the Fall of 2017.

Kiley Rapier and Geron Fuller, the complex’s managers, said the apartments will bring luxury to student living.

Theatre freshman Clare Keating summed up many students’ thoughts when asked about the new property: “That would be cool, if I could afford it.”

Most of Aspen Heights’ student housing options are townhomes with access to amenities. In 2015, the company began constructing the apartment-style housing that will appear at 4971 Martin Luther King Blvd.

Amenities there will include a pool, 24-hour access gym and a private parking garage, with room for 717 beds, Fuller said.

“We just saw a huge opportunity, especially for how big of a commuter school it is and all of the international students, to go ahead and get some additional housing,” Rapier, the Sales & Marketing Manager for the new complex, said. “The amenities are to die for. They’re going to be bigger and better than the competition.”

There’s a clear demand for on or near-campus housing at UH. In September, Chancellor and President Renu Khator announced that all beds on campus were filled. The Quadrangle, the oldest student housing on campus, will be demolished after spring 2017 to make way for updated housing. In the meantime, hundreds of students will need to find alternatives.

When construction of the location at 4971 Martin Luther King Blvd. is complete, Aspen Heights will have opened 24 housing developments in 10 years. Rapier said they’ve never attempted to build anything in a city as large as Houston.

“Houston is about to overcome Chicago as the third largest city come 2020, so that’s one thing that’s different,” Rapier said. “Most of the time our property is in college towns, so this is different, since it is a commuter school.”

Despite the developers’ focus on student housing, Aspen Heights’ UH property will be 1.2 miles from the Student Center South—making it the furthest-away housing marketed specifically for UH students.

Aspen Heights’ management said they hope UH students will take advantage of the METRO Rail stop near the intersection of their property.

“Right now we have a nice balance of (UH) being our own place and still being active in the neighborhood around us,” said Jack Lucy, a political science freshman. “If it’s handled well, there’s a lot of ways it could go well.”

Many students said they were concerned about the location’s “luxury”-level cost and crime in the Third Ward, but they were excited for new residential communities.

On Aug. 23, dozens of cars were vandalized at the gated parking garage at off-campus apartment complex Campus Vue, a half mile closer to campus than Aspen Heights will be.

To address security concerns, Fuller said students will need an access key to enter the gated community and security will live onsite.

“Crime can happen anywhere, but we’ll do all that we can do,” Rapier said.

Rates at Aspen Heights will be competitive to other private student housing near UH, Fuller said. Exact rates will be available and students can sign a lease at Aspen Heights starting Oct. 10.

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