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A Conversation With … Brent Brown

Owner and Developer of Boomertown Lofts LLC

Posted online

What makes your Boomer Town Studios unique among student housing in Springfield?
We believe there will be everything from professors to attorneys to young professionals to traveling nurses. We have 70 fully furnished studio suites. They are 391 [square] feet because in order to qualify as a microefficiency, they have to be less than 400 [square] feet. The reason that is significant is because of parking requirements through the city. Each one of these fully furnished suites will come with everything from your furniture to your kitchen, stainless steel appliances, kitchenware and linens. Really, you can just show up with your suitcase. Because of its proximity to campus, we certainly feel there’s going to be a heavy student tenant population there.

How many units do you have leased out, and what’s the demographic of Boomer Town tenants so far?
About 75 percent of those who have leased apartments to date would appear to be students. We’re at almost 85 percent total occupancy. We got a temporary certificate of occupancy back in July, and we moved our first group in on the 23rd of July.

Your studios rent for $750 apiece. Meals and housing costs combined at Missouri State University are priced roughly $650-$850 a month. Why do students choose to live off campus?
You live in the dorm, you have that experience and what comes next as a sophomore, junior and senior? You’re going to live in potentially a fraternity or sorority house, or you’re going to live in a house with two or three of your friends or you’re going to live in an apartment. We fit into that category of student who has done the communal living in the dorm. They’re ready for their own space.

What was the process of building Boomer Town Studios?
There were six older structures there – homes and there was an old fraternity house. This has been a process that goes back many years. And actually, the ownership of this has changed over the last several years to get to a place where our group was able to come together and actually rezone this. This is a mixed-use facility. That’s part of what we’re able to do with the city, and accommodating as much as possible the Rountree neighborhood, to not just have all apartments there and to have some commercial space. We have a coffee shop coming in. There was a blight designation that had to also be accepted. There’s a redevelopment area there that allowed for us to … reap the benefits of a tax abatement as well.

Forbes reported real estate managers globally have invested $1.9 billion on student housing projects this year through July, which equals the tally for all of 2017. Locally, from 2009 to 2015, roughly $140 million was invested in 17 student housing projects around MSU. Is there a tipping point?
I own a property management company, as well, and we manage not only my properties, but we’re a third-party service provider for other owners. Occupancies are there. Developments continue to come in and around campus, and they continue to get filled up. Certainly, Missouri State has grown and with anything there is a tipping point, but right now it would appear that as these developments are being built, they’re still being filled up.

Brent Brown can be reached at brent@teamentrust.com.

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