Upscale Student Housing

By CNBC's Diana Olick

Published 07/11 2014 10:13AM

Updated 07/11 2014 10:17AM

(CNBC)   From the front lobby, it could easily be mistaken for a spa hotel--the blue wave lighting on the wall behind the concierge desk, the sleek sofas and flat screen monitors. But this is no hotel. It's student housing--millennial style--and it may be one of the best under-the-radar real estate plays of the decade.

"This is an industry that is ripe with opportunity," said Bill Bayless, CEO of American Campus Communities, the largest student housing REIT (real estate investment trust) in the nation and developer of Drexel University's Chestnut Square, a 361,000-square-foot luxury dormitory for 861 students on the Philadelphia campus. "If you look at the student housing sector, it was ignored by the mainstream real estate industry for more than 40 years."

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