Tippecanoe County’s 2019 Student Rental Report recommends a self-imposed moratorium on building any more high-rise apartment complexes in the near future.
The numbers suggest occupancy rates have decreased in West Lafayette as hundreds of new beds became available this fall. As occupancy rates are decreasing, West Lafayette Development Director Erik Carlson says so are rental prices for apartments surrounding the Purdue University campus.
“We’ve seen a significant decrease in rent within a half-mile of the campus about 5 and a half to 6 percent and then at the half-mile to mile range around campus is actually around 29 percent decrease in rent,” Carlson says.
Occupancy rates around campus have hovered in the 95-99 percent range for years. But this year, the Hub high-rise on State Street still has nearly 300 bedrooms available. Wabash Landing Apartments, on the West Lafayette levee, has yet to rent more than four of every five of its bedrooms.
“Rents have gone down because there’s more supply that’s just a fact, students have a heck of a lot more choices than they used to and there’s more competition,” Plan Commission Assistant Director Ryan O’Gara says.
Although rates have decreased, there may be some disagreement as to whether West Lafayette should continue to allow more housing developments.
West Lafayette Development Director Erik Carlson says the amount of available housing has discouraged lenders from funding new student housing options. But First District City Councilor Nick DeBoer says although rates are decreasing, high rent costs are still a problem.
”The cost per square foot is still more expensive than San Francisco and Boston,” DeBoer says.
DeBoer believes the city should develop a policy to develop more student housing, as a way of further driving down rental costs. He says this could include creating residential spaces at the Chauncey Hill Mall site – a move developers have proposed, but which has drawn pushback from several city leaders hoping for new retail space instead.