Real Estate - Residential

For $43M, Firm Buys Student Housing Complex, Plans Upgrades

By Cece Nunn, posted Jan 5, 2018
Aspire 349 is the new name of Carolina Cove apartments off Randal Parkway and South Kerr Avenue, after the community was recently purchased by Balfour Beatty Communities. (Photo courtesy of Balfour Beatty Investments)

A national company has purchased a Wilmington student housing community for more than $43 million and changed the name.

Carolina Cove is now Aspire 349 after the 228-unit apartment complex was acquired by Balfour Beatty Communities in December in a $43.2 million deal, according to the deed. The new name reflects a Balfour Beatty Communities brand, Aspire, along with the community's address at 349 Campus Cove Road near the University of North Carolina Wilmington. 

Part of a joint venture with Apex One Investment Partners of Houston, Texas, the transaction marks Balfour Beatty's first deal in the off-campus student housing market, according to a recent news release. The community had previously changed hands in 2016 when it was purchased by Connecticut-based Realco Capital Partners for $34.2 million.

The community has a mix of two- and three-bedroom floor plans and serves students enrolled at UNCW. The current rent rate is $610 to $730 by-the-bed, with no immediate rental increases planned said Maureen Omrod, vice president of marketing and communications for Balfour Beatty Investments.

Built in 2013, Aspire 349 occupies more than 13 acres close to the corner of Randall Parkway and South Kerr Avenue and offers 600 beds, according to the release. Its 10, three-story buildings include units that average a little more than 1,100 square feet and offer private bedrooms and bathrooms, fully equipped shared kitchens, in-unit washers and dryers, walk-in closets and covered porches, along with a Wi-Fi and cable TV package.

The release stated that common area amenities include a resort style pool, fitness center, outdoor grilling area, beach volleyball, basketball court, hammock garden and dog park. The clubhouse features a recently renovated business center, gaming lounge, tanning area and high-speed internet throughout.

"We are very pleased to continue our successful partnership with Apex One and expand our student housing portfolio into North Carolina with our first acquisition in off-campus student housing,” said Chris Williams, president of Balfour Beatty Communities, in the release. “This transaction is an exciting execution on our strategy to further invest in well-located properties with upside potential that can be realized through operational and capital improvements and a perfect complement to our existing portfolio of on-campus student housing."

The release stated that Balfour Beatty Communities would perform property management services for Aspire 349 through its Campus Housing Division and would invest in a series of capital improvements at the property, including both interior and exterior upgrades.

That work is expected to start in the near future, Omrod said in an email Friday, including upgraded lighting and flooring in the units, as well as new furniture and TVs. The details of the exterior and amenity improvements are still to be determined.

"We will use our relationships with national flooring, lighting, furniture and other vendors to perform the work, including the engagement of local contractors as needed," Omrod said in an email.

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