Although it was founded just two years ago, Haven Campus Communities has become a major force when it comes to providing high-quality student-housing communities near college campuses throughout the United States. As president and chief operating officer of Haven Campus Communities, Jay Williams not only is responsible for overseeing daily operations of the company, but he’s also in charge of its overall strategy and development activity.
For such a young company, Haven Campus Communities has been efficient in developing new communities, with a portfolio that already includes three completed and operating properties, three more properties set to open in 2016, and three additional properties set for 2017 openings. Williams acknowledges that their growth has been especially rapid; in order to keep up with larger competitors, he says, his own team “must work harder and faster.”
According to Williams, Haven Campus Communities has very strict criteria when it comes to selecting sites for properties. For the schools that they select, it’s paramount for the school to be “established with stable or better enrollment growth.” Additionally, Williams notes that property locations must be within a mile of campus and on a bus route for the school. “At the end of the day, these sites are harder to find and, therefore, a part of our strategy is working very quickly to determine if a site meets our criteria,” he says.
Haven West (The University of West Georgia)
With 160 units (568 beds) and a location across from the University of West Georgia’s football stadium, Haven West announced Haven Campus Communities as an elite purveyor in college off-campus real estate. Opening in August 2014 before the school year, the property reached 100 percent occupancy, and they followed that up with achieving 100 percent again for 2015. Williams and his team are pleased with the “great market response” they’ve had so far.
Haven Campus Communities certainly distinguishes itself from other companies with the variety of amenities that it provides for students. “The Clubhouse” at Haven West houses not only offices for management staff, but also a coffee bar, game room, lounge area, study area, and tanning booth. Next to it is a swimming pool equipped with lounge furniture and a hammock garden.
One of the most important amenities that Haven Campus Communities provides at every community is state-of-the-art technology. “The world that students live in now is constantly changing and evolving, and that is primarily related to technology,” Williams says. A critical goal for Williams and his team is to provide the most bandwidth of any student housing community at each location. “We do that because we believe that technology for students is a priority, and if you’re not delivering what they need, then you very well may find them going somewhere else to get it.”
Haven12 (Mississippi State University)
Opening just in time for the Fall 2015 semester, Haven12 has 152 units (536 beds) and is located next to the Thad Cochran Research, Technology, and Economic Development Park. Currently the property is 100 percent leased. With a dynamic central courtyard, Haven12 provides students with a number of outdoor amenities, including a bocce ball court, fire pits, a horseshoe court, and several covered, built-in grills. The Clubhouse features many of the same amenities that Haven Campus Communities produced for Haven West, and even includes a cyber-lounge with charging stations.
Williams stresses that his team looks at each development from “an entrepreneurial design standpoint,” and that they do not take a “cookie-cutter approach,” either. For each new development, Haven Campus Communities starts from scratch in order to understand the students and their unique needs. At Haven12, each apartment is fully furnished with kitchens, large flat-screen TVs, and full-size washers and dryers. High-speed Internet service is provided through an on-site network.
Williams says one of the more common mistakes made by multi-family developers make entering into student space is the assumption that they can apply the same principles they’ve always held to college campuses. “We quickly realized that wasn’t the case,” he says, crediting the company’s marketing initiatives for creating adjustments towards what students need—and not just what they want.
Haven South (Baylor University)
Slated to open in August of 2016 near Baylor University, Haven South will offer 840 beds across a diverse building mix, including a townhome product, traditional garden-style units, and a new bungalow product—which is Haven Campus Communities’ progressive take on the cottage product.
Amenities for Haven South will include some of the same features seen at other Haven Campus Communities properties and then some. The courtyard will include a resort-style pool, a large tanning deck, and several cabanas. There will also be a separate fitness center building measuring over 2,000 square feet. And, since Haven South is in the middle of a pro-pet community, it also features a spacious pet park exclusively for residents.