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Taller, Denser, More Urban
Bendix Anderson
As Seen In Student Housing Business Magazine

The new student housing at Campus Town is creating a new residential core for The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township, New Jersey.

"Everybody said: 'whoa, this is big'," says William Feinberg, president of Feinberg & Associates, based in Voorhees, New Jersey. "You feel like you are walking down an urban street. In the past, you didn't build this urban environment."

Instead, student housing was often located a few miles away from campus, on larger sites where developers could build low-density, garden-steyl apartment housing. "You would have the parking lot, but there were no amenities," says Feinberg.

The college had originally planned to do much less its master plan for the site called for just 200 beds of student housing. That's even though the school has more than 6,000 students enrolled, and most now have to live off-campus in decades old single family homes converted into rental student housing.

Developer PRC Campus Centers, A PRC Group Company based in Long Branch, New Jersey, estimates demand for more than 600 beds of student housing and convinced the school to double its master plan to 446 beds for the community.

In September 2014, the developer began to lease the property. In just three months, the community was totally leased. The community will open August 2015.

"It was a challenge to convince the college and the developer to bring the mass onto the site," says Feinberg. To help the new buildings fit in with th rest of the campus, the new buildings are shorter than the historic heart of the campus, the 54-foot-tall Loser Hall (pronounced Low-zer), a stately building in the Georgian Colonial style, complete with ta cupolo. The tallest of the new buildings is just 52-feet tall with four floors of wood-frame student housing apartments over a floor of retail space.

The new buildings match the red and white Georgian colonial style of the exisiting campus buildings, including the distinctive burgandy-colored bricks. Mansard roofs on the new buildings hide rooftop mechanical systems. Campus Town also arranges four of the new buildings around a new public square, 150 feet long by 80 feet wide., landscaped with trees and including an 88-foot-tall clock tower, made of brick and steel .

All this architectural sensitivity is expensive. Details like the bricks and the mansard roofs probably added 20 percent to the total development cost of the $86 million project. The clock tower alone added $700,000 though it was well worth the expense. The developer had to compete against several other builders to win the contract to build this student housing community. The college was impressed with details of PRC's plan including the clock tower.

"I think the clock tower put the developer over the top," says Feinberg.

College officials are happy that PRC's pan incudes 88,000 square feet of retail space. The other developers competing with the college to build the project did not include retail in their plans, according to Feinberg.

Though the community won't open until August, the retail space is now 70 percent leased. The restaurant options will include sushi, Italian, pizza and Panera Bread. A bank, a sports bar, and a Barnes & Noble Bookstore will also claim space at the community.

The retail space is designed to face both the college square and a major roadway. "There are no backs to these buildings," says Feinberg. The shops and restaurants will serve the ore than 6,000 students who attend the university in addition to shoppers and diners from the surrounding area.

The developer bet that students would not need a parking space for every bed at the community. They can walk to campus, and can shop or dine out in the retail space at the community. For 446 new beds, Campus Town only provides roughly 300 parking spaces on surface lots. Buy January 2015, only 60 percent of those parking spaces had rented. These underutilize parking spaces could provide an opportunity for future development.

"We could probably get another 200 beds on the site," says Feinberg.