Conor McNally, chief development officer of Carter, joined a cast of seasoned real estate professionals this morning to share thoughts on development and construction in the Atlanta market.
McNally addressed a myriad of topics, ranging from student housing to multifamily to the Atlanta market as a whole.
When asked what steps Atlanta should be taking to become a gateway city, he alluded to the idea of developing an urban core. “Atlanta has dispersed activity between various markets – Buckhead, Midtown, Perimeter, etc. We can’t move towards becoming a gateway city unless we take a more regional approach to economic development and focus on our urban core.” Other panelists added that improvements to water, transportation and education are critical for advancement.
Student housing and multifamily were of course major topics of conversation at today’s event. McNally noted that “the demographic shift to Millennials means we’ll see a move from home ownership to rental properties. Multifamily developments in urban infill areas will therefore continue to flourish.”
On the higher education front, the panelists agreed that more universities will most likely follow the University of Kentucky’s lead and look to public-private partnerships for student housing funding. “Kentucky’s dormitories were decrepit and completely outdated, and becoming an impediment to enrollment,” McNally said. He also added that “not one size fits all” in terms of a standard model for student housing facilities. What may work for Kentucky might not be applicable in Florida.
The good news is that all in all, capital is abundant for multifamily and student housing projects, albeit with greater criteria and restrictions than in the past. And student housing is a sector that Carter anticipates seeing a flurry of activity in the coming years. Carter is well underway on Highland Square, a new 753-bed student housing community located in Oxford, Miss., adjacent to the University of Mississippi. The company broke ground on the $40 million project last September. To check out our previous blog about the project, click here.
Additional panelists included Kerry Armstrong of Pope & Land, Michael Black of Georgia Tech, Jeffrey Fuqua of Fuqua Development, Michael Cohn of Cousins Properties and Bill Halter of Cooper Carry.