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Housing options expanding for SLU students

An artist's rendering of The Standard, a 465-bedroom private student housing development going up on Forest Park Avenue.
(courtesy of Sangita Capital Partners)

Just kitty-corner from the new IKEA building in Midtown St. Louis, a new private student housing development is taking shape.

The Standard is expected to open August 1, and it’s already more than 90 percent leased.

"That’s wildly successful," said Mike Sansone, principal of Sangita Capital Partners. "We’re very, very pleased with where that is."

Clayton-based Sangita is working with Landmark Properties, a student housing developer from Athens, Georgia. The building will have 164 units with 465 bedrooms separated into one- to four-bedroom apartments, as well as a 400-vehicle garage.

The Standard at 3853 Forest Park Avenue will join the 3949 Apartments on Lindell Avenue, among the latest housing projects aimed at St. Louis University students. Sansone said the new development will benefit the university as housing becomes a critical part of attracting students.

"There’s product like this all over the country, and for St. Louis University to compete with other institutions, they need to have products like this available to their graduate students, their upperclassmen and some of their underclassmen," he said.

St. Louis University isn’t viewing the new housing as competition, especially because most underclassmen are required to live on campus. Vice-president of student development, Kent Porterfield, said they often joke that students who choose to live just off-campus are “resimuters,” as they hardly can be thought of as commuters.

"The new stuff is of a higher quality and it’s close to campus," Porterfield said of the new private housing developments. "It’s almost like those students are on-campus."

The university is prioritizing building new residence halls aimed at its underclassmen. Pre-construction work is beginning on a nearly $44 million, 450-bed residence hall at Laclede and Spring that’s slated to open in fall 2016. The university’s Board of Trustees is expected to vote on a second 470- to 500-bed residence hall in September.

"Both are a mix of more traditional style of residence hall, but with some of the amenities and characteristics that students want to see today," Porterfield said.

That means the rooms are more private and will resemble suites or apartments. At the same time, Porterfield said the buildings will be configured like traditional residence halls with strong community spaces important for underclassmen. St. Louis University also is planning a renovation of the Griesedieck Tower and creating graduate student housing in the Salus Center at the university’s Medical Center.

Down the line, Porterfield said, there may be a new residence hall built for upperclassmen, more in the style of an apartment building. For now, though, the university is welcoming student housing going up around Midtown.

"If it’s development that enhances the quality of student experience at the university, it’s certainly a good thing," Porterfield said.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.