- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Aspen Heights
- Estimated reading time: 3 mins
Aspen Heights (AH) is a growing developer for student housing serving colleges and universities within a growing geographic footprint. The business has completed major housing projects in nine states. These unique townhomes for higher education residents are popping up all over the Southeast United States, offering an entirely new take on the college dormitory.
“We focus on student housing,” explains Stuart Watkins, director of public relations for AH. “Until now we were developing single family residences and duplexes. Our buildings are resort-style, cottage homes. We run these communities like an apartment complex. We are continually evolving and we utilize student focus groups to offer housing that fits student needs and appeals to that demographic most. We started in Waco, Texas. We leased all of our residences out in one week and ended up building 50 houses instead of nine.”
Students living in AH communities across the region are giving rave reviews on these high quality student homes. Residents enjoy large bedrooms, walk-in closets, cozy common spaces, full kitchens and private bathrooms. AH housing is the polar opposite of a dorm or crowded apartment. These spaces offer comfort, privacy and an all-student community. Onsite staff members vow to respond to maintenance issues within four hours, a luxury rarely found elsewhere.
The benefits of AH living go beyond just a nice place to live and study. With resort amenities, there is always something to do in the neighborhood. Students have access to a California-style pool for a dip on hot days or even just a patio to lounge on and get some rays. A 24-hour fitness center onsite offers high-end equipment to keep students moving and win the battle against the dreaded Freshman 15. The neighborhood also boasts full volleyball courts and a movie theater.
As AH continues to develop properties, the team is keeping in mind more and more of the challenges students face while looking for a place to live. “Many of our homes feature a four-bedroom plan,” Watkins notes. “But when speaking to students, we found that four bedrooms can be hard to fill sometimes. We are now offering two-bedroom and three-bedroom homes. We currently have six new projects under construction for the end of summer 2013.”
Despite the recession, AH is thriving. “It hasn’t effected us much,” Watkins explains. “Now more than ever we are seeing a push for multi-family housing.” AH has a market for these projects, but more importantly, the business has the connections. “We have our own general contractor, York construction,” Watkins says. “We like to work with local subs, but we do have certain companies we know we can rely on. There is always some carryover from job to job. We stay on top of scheduling. There are always things that are just out of our control sometimes, but we don’t let those challenges keep us awake at night.”
More important than financial success is the response AH has received from students. The company has done its homework and after listening to what students have to say about housing, it looks like AH has hit the nail on the head. These student-centered projects reflect changing needs of busy college kids across the country. Living in an AH property feels more like living in a house than in an apartment, and hundreds of students are happy to call AH properties home.
With continued, steady growth, AH has been able to reach out in other ways, too. In 2007, AH founded Aspen Heights in Africa (AHA). The organization is building communities abroad to help lift those in need out of poverty. AHA works with new leasers, providing housing as well as educational services. With so much going on at home, the team has found a way to give back by utilizing its unique approach to housing.
The number of Americans attending college is on the rise. With high costs of on-campus living on top of tuition, AH is providing a unique affordable alternative to the cramped dorm lifestyle. “We are combining a student experience with comfortable, cottage-style living,” Watkins explains. “We are offering students the best of both worlds.” Aspen Heights will continue to provide evolving communities to fit the changing needs of American students, living at what is often the first home away from home experience.
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