For most, student housing conjures up images of cramped quarters decorated with iconic movie posters and old pizza boxes strewn about the floor. As undergraduate enrollment increases across the country, many universities have struggled to keep pace with the need for housing both on campus and off — causing students and developers alike to reimagine the lifestyle.
Ottawa’s Carleton University is no exception to this national trend. Over the past 10 years, enrollment has grown 18 per cent to a student population of 28,000. There are currently just 3,601 beds on campus, and the university is constrained further by its unique geography. Carleton is surrounded by lush parklands and waterways, pushing student housing farther away from campus and resulting in an average commute time of 25 minutes.
Ashcroft Homes is bringing welcome change to the Ottawa market with a two-tower community of upscale student residences. BuzzBuzzHome recently toured the site to gain a better understanding of how the project will revolutionize the student housing sector.
Just around the corner from Little Italy’s bustling Preston Street is Envie — a soon-to-be 28 storey tower of student rental apartments. While the building might be the first of its kind in Ottawa, Ashcroft Homes’ CEO David Choo is aiming to take the brand across the country. “You can build good buildings but it’s the service that defines you,” explained Choo.
With an ever-growing portfolio of retirement homes and condo projects, Ashcroft Homes certainly has the experience. The builder has constructed thousands of units throughout its 25 year history. As construction on Envie nears closer to completion, Ashcroft Homes is gearing up for the launch of Capital Hall, an investor-driven student condo tower on the same site. It’s a rare opportunity for parents and investors to tap into an untapped market. “Condos are need-driven, but there will always be students wanting to live close to campus,” said Choo.
The residence will boast 329 fully-furnished suites that range from studios to two bedrooms, two bathrooms. With prices starting from $179,900, units are equipped with beds, side tables, lamps, chairs, a television and living room and dining room furniture. The high-rise community offers unparalleled views of the Ottawa skyline, Dow’s Lake and the vastness of the Gatineau Hills. Each unit also comes with a three year leaseback guarantee, which will ensure a positive cash flow for investors.
Capital Hall will feature over 8,000 square feet of amenities students crave. There will be a state-of-the-art fitness centre, games area, stylish party room and a lounge with stimulating study niches. Outside, residents will enjoy a landscaped inner courtyard with a basketball court. A coffee shop and small grocer will serve as the building’s ground level retail. Convenient services such as a 24-hour concierge, bike storage and housekeeping are also available.
Perhaps the most enticing aspect of life at Capital Hall is its proximity to the Carleton campus. It’s just a two minute walk to the O-Train and from there it’s a two minute ride to class. The vibrant Little Italy neighbourhood is dotted with cafes, restaurants, pubs and shops.
When it comes to investing, timing is everything — and as the property is the first of its kind in Ottawa, sales are likely to be brisk. Envie will be ready in time for the start of the 2016 school year, while Capital Hall will follow suit in 2018. Plus, with the government planning to double the number of international students in Canada by 2022, the demand for turnkey investment properties will continue to rise.
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