In the latest episode of the NAREIT Podcast, Bill Bayless, president and CEO of American Campus Communities, Inc. (NYSE: ACC), discussed the start of the student housing REIT’s 100th property and looked at the evolution of the sector.
American Campus broke ground in July on its 100th property, U Club Sunnyside at West Virginia University. The new facility will house 536 beds for university students.
“It’s a special milestone for the company,” Bayless said.
When asked how Bayless would describe the benefits of schools partnering with American Campus to build new student housing, he pointed to the company’s ability to raise capital. Budget crunches are forcing the schools to save money for academic facilities, according to Bayless
“First and foremost for colleges and universities across the country, all of them tend to suffer from the restrained capital environment in terms of state budgets,” he said. “Now they have to rely on the private sector to provide facilities and capital projects that are non-core.”
In terms of what makes American Campus unique, Bayless noted that the firm focuses on creating “environments that are conducive to academic achievement.” Achieving that starts with American Campus’ emphasis on hiring people who have worked as resident assistants (RAs) in colleges, Bayless said. All 17 members of American Campus’ senior management team were RAs.
Regarding other evolutions to come in the industry, Bayless said he expects to see further privatization of university student housing facilities.