American Campus Communities CEO Sees Growing Demand for Study Space

Bill Bayless

Bill Bayless, president and CEO of American Campus Communities, Inc. (NYSE: ACC), joined REIT.com for a CEO Spotlight video interview at REITWorld 2015: NAREIT’s Annual Convention for All Things REIT at the Wynn Las Vegas.

In August, American Campus celebrated its 100th student housing development with the construction of U Club Sunnyside, an off-campus community serving students attending West Virginia University (WVU). Bayless said the event had special significance for him because he graduated from WVU.

“I had conceived the concept of what American Campus might be some day when I was in college. To be back in Morgantown, W.Va., was beyond special for me. It was really going full circle in my career,” he said.

Bayless explained that American Campus’ mission is to create communities that are conducive to academic achievement.

One of the biggest trends to emerge nationally for the last two development cycles, he pointed out, is the amount of academic space the company is incorporating into its common amenities. While American Campus properties still offer fitness centers and other recreational amenities, individual study rooms and group working rooms are becoming increasingly important.

“It’s about really creating communities where students can achieve academic success,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bayless stressed the stability of cash flow that makes student housing stand apart from other real estate sectors. According to Bayless, student housing is not impacted by macroeconomic factors, resulting in consistent rental rate growth in the range of 2.5 percent to 3.25 percent each year.

“You don’t see any variation in that. In the 11 years that we have been public, we’ve never had a negative year of rental rate growth,” Bayless said.