The Edmonton Journal reported on the challenging issues for student residence (read the article here). With Edmonton's vacancy rate at 1.4% and student housing at the schools selling out for year and years in a row, it is significantly difficult for students to find a place to live that is even remotely near their school. International students find it even more difficult; often they are navigating a new language, have never rented before and have never seen a lease document and don't know the country let alone the city; all on top of what a young adult experiences when they leave home to attend school.
I'm currently working on a project that could fill this need. I want to build a mixed use multi-family building on Whyte avenue. This innovative building would be marketed to international students as value added housing, I'll explain what that means in a bit. Many students coming from Asia use study abroad agencies to locate a school for them and the agencies would only be able to offer student residence, if available. Once this building is constructed I would form some sort of partnership with these agencies to promote my building. The services I would offer the students when they arrive would be support in getting a bank account set up, phone set up, travel and tourism information, connection to a community; that is the value added part. Having these partnerships with the agencies would allow for more regular - prescreened applicants; which in turn would allow me to have more flexibility in the lease terms (not offer only one year lease terms). These additional services would warrant a higher monthly lease rate, or when times are bad differentiate the product from the competition.
But....The building is not constructed, and why - well that story is for another day!