Developer looking for partners on Rollins College student housing venture

Winter Park developer Chris Hughes believes he's found the right location and design for a student housing venture near Rollins College that will blend in with the downtown neighborhood.

Hughes, a principal of Wekiva Capital Partners, is modeling his "cottage style" student housing development after a similar concept with proven success in Athens, Georgia. Each two-story cottage will have three bedrooms, each with a private bathroom, shared common space and a power room on the first floor.

"Each cottage will have in-unit laundry," he told GrowthSpotter on Tuesday. "We intend to implement some green features, as well." 

Hughes bought a pair of off-market vacant lots on Minnesota Avenue next to the train tracks in 2016 for $492,000. He won city approval for multifamily residential zoning, and has permits for a cluster home development of seven cottages with shared parking and a swimming pool with cabana and barbecue area.

"It's less than half a mile to the Rollins campus, so it's very walkable," he said. The site is across the street from the Azalea Park Recreation Center. 

Hughes said his goal is to complete construction in time for the Fall 2018 semester and hold the property for two years max. 

"I don't have a construction date yet," he said. "Right now we're still looking to raise equity on the capital side. I'm open to a JV or an investment partner." 

The design complies with Winter Park's ordinance restricting more than three unrelated persons from living in the same household.

"There's no need to reinvent the wheel," he said. "This is a model that works, that blends in with the neighborhood, and it brings in higher rents."

He said target rents would be $1,200 per month per bedroom. 

Klima Weeks is the project engineer, and architect Tom Lamar designed the cottages. Hughes said the final design will vary slightly from Lamar's rendering.

"In the rendering, all the cottages are the same color," he said. "I'm going to paint them different colors and paint the doors different colors so they fit in with the neighborhood." 

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