How popular student housing towers are changing Tucson’s apartment market

By Gabriela Rico | Arizona Daily Star

With the proliferation of student housing towers popping up around the University of Arizona, some owners of outlying apartment complexes are targeting a different kind of tenant.

Several complexes were built for students away from campus before zoning changes allowed for more height near the university.

Now, as the shiny new towers draw more students, about half a dozen of those complexes are flipping over to traditional apartment rentals.

And, as Tucson home prices continue to rise, demand for rentals has grown sharply and these outlying complexes are situated to meet the demand.

“The handwriting has been on the wall, so to speak, on the properties out by Starr Pass and the Wetmore and Oracle area,” said Art Wadlund, senior managing director and multifamily specialist with Berkadia. “Something was going to change because tenants want to be closer to campus.”

That became a possibility after the city of Tucson, in 2012, approved a zoning overlay district to create density along the streetcar line, which permitted developments of up to 14 stories. Previously, the limit was four stories.

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