Condos Tap into Student Market

Suite at Dundas Square Gardens

New housing options:  It’s not uncommon for urban colleges and universities to outpace the availability of local student lodgings.

As students, Thomas Liu and Jessica Wang of the Lemine Group attended the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC) and experienced first-hand the lack of accommodations available to students and faculty at this burgeoning campus in Toronto’s east end.

Recently, the husband and wife investment firm teamed up with Devron Developments to introduce the Academy Condominiums by the University, to be located at Morningside and Ellesmere, in an effort to satisfy the urgent demand for new housing options in this evolving area.

It’s not uncommon for popular urban colleges and universities to outpace the availability of local student lodgings. At UTSC for example, enrollment is approaching 12,000 students, yet the on-site student residence includes just 765 beds, barely adequate for a cohort of first-year students. The alternative is often one of the expensive, illegal and inadequate basement apartments in nearby private homes.

UTSC has been growing, with enrollment almost doubling in the past 10 years and expected to increase by a pace of almost 400 units per year, says Pouyan Safapour, Devron’s vice-president of operations. “There is a pattern, a repeating issue in terms of the lack of housing around universities.”

Recognizing this dilemma, Lemine and Devron selected a strategic property close to the UTSC campus for The Academy. “We’re not necessarily building a student-purposed building; it’s a regular condo. Whether it’s the students themselves, their parents or investors, the biggest market there is the students,” says Safapour.

“Whether it’s the students, their parents or investors, the biggest market there is the students.”

Pouyan Safapour, Devron’s vice-president of operations, on the Academy condos near U of T’s Scarborough campus

And in Toronto’s downtown, the recently announced Dundas Square Gardens condominium complex will be a short walk from Ryerson University’s busy campus.

“I think Ryerson right now has 40,000 students,” says developer Steve Gupta of Easton’s Group of Companies. He sees a great advantage for students living close to school. “If they can cut down travelling time from two to three hours to get to any suburban areas from downtown to maybe five or 10 minutes, that is really, really important for them because they can invest the time in their studies,” he says.

With Toronto’s high rents, this type of building is a smart alternative for students and their parents and a practical investment over the course of their studies. “They’re there anywhere from three to four years minimum when they’re doing their graduation. And then if they do a masters, it’s two more years. So five, six years where somebody needs to live close by,” says Gupta.