Bill Bayless, CEO of American Campus Communities (NYSE: ACC) participated in a video interview at Nareit’s REITweek: 2018 Investor Conference in New York.
Bayless highlighted the strong global and domestic investor interest in the student housing sector. Even in the face of rising interest rates, cap rates have compressed, he noted.
“The environment out there, to be able to recycle capital and sell into the institutional demand, is as high as it’s ever been for us,” Bayless said.
Meanwhile, Bayless announced that American Campus Communities has signed a letter of intent to lease land from Walt Disney World Resort to develop and own housing for participants of the Disney College Program. He described it as a $600 million transaction.
“When you think of all the Fortune 50 companies around America that have the need for affordable housing for their employees, what we’re doing at Disney may be able to translate into solving problems for other companies,” Bayless said.
Bayless noted that the project with Disney is also expected to include an education center.
“It’s a great leadway into using the expertise we have with colleges and universities and working with Disney that could lead to other big things in our future,” he said. American Campus Communities expects to break ground on the project in November and deliver from 2020 to 2023.
Bayless also pointed out that the REIT has “significantly outperformed” its peers by “staying true to our fundamentals over the years.” Case in point, the company booked a 96.8 percent occupancy rate last year at College Station, Texas A&M University, which is currently the softest market in the student housing sector, according to Bayless.