Though San Francisco has made some progress in dealing with its student housing shortage, there is still a stark supply and demand imbalance, and housing developers face a number of market challenges.
S.F. has about 30 colleges and universities and not nearly enough student housing to match their combined enrollment, says California College of the Arts Director of Campus Planning David Meckel, a panelist at Bisnow’s upcoming Bay Area Student Housing Summit.
After the city’s schools, San Francisco’s planning department and the nonprofit San Francisco Housing Action Coalition teamed up and began addressing the problem in earnest last decade, they concluded San Francisco had about 80,000 enrolled students and only about 9,000 beds.
There are barriers to market entry that prevented developers from building more, according to Meckel.
“Unlike a student housing developer rolling into Texas or College Station and banging something up on a greenfield lot, San Francisco made it as difficult as possible,” he said. “The first thing we did as a group was to pass some legislation that would remove some of the barriers to doing student housing.”
In 2010, one of the bigger obstacles fell by the wayside when the city exempted student housing from its inclusionary requirements. That ordinance, as well as others in the ensuing years, “completely changed the landscape for student housing in San Francisco,” Meckel said.
For CCA, that resulted in the Panoramic Interests-developed 1321 Mission St., a 160-unit student housing project shared by CCA and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, as well as Blattner Hall, a four-story, 228-bed building CCA recently finished at 75 Arkansas St.
CCA also has a 500-bed student housing project underway at 188 Hooper St., which it expects to open in 2020, as well as a major Studio Gang-designed campus expansion it expects to finish in 2022.
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