By James Fink – Reporter, Buffalo Business First
When the Auden Buffalo student housing complex opens this fall, it may set the bar for student housing.
You won’t find pre-fab college dorms with concrete walls, tile floors and inexpensive furnishings. Instead there’s an outdoor skating rink, an in-ground pool, two in-ground whirlpools, fire pits, saunas, a gym and fitness center, a yoga studio, a small movie theater, a clubhouse and pool and foosball tables.
The $50 million Auden Buffalo, designed by DMG Investments LLC of Manhattan, will feature 154 apartments with capacity to house 481 students. Apartments range from studios to four-bedroom models. The complex is at 2915 North Forest Road, Amherst, a 20-minute walk from the University at Buffalo’s North Campus.
Auden Buffalo, the only student housing complex in DMG’s portfolio, is emerging as the company’s flagship development and was built from the ground up, said Andrew Hilfiker, Auden Buffalo property manager.
“It gave us a blank canvas to work from,” Hilfiker said.
A shuttle service is available that runs to the UB campus as well as nearby shopping centers and supermarkets. There’s indoor parking for 100 cars and on-site parking for 200. Apartments are stocked with stainless steel appliances, couches, desks and bedroom sets.
“The intent is to make the entire experience as stress free as possible,” Hilfiker said.
Auden Buffalo isn’t due to open until August, but it’s nearly sold out. Studio apartments run $1,069 per month, one-bedroom units for $1,249 per month and four-bedroom apartments for $829 per month.
“Understand this, students go to college not just for the education but for the entire experience,” said Hilfiker, a UB graduate. “If you can offer students a chance to network and to meet people, you are giving them a better collegiate experience.”
Auden Buffalo is not DMG’s only Buffalo area student housing project. The company is investing $21.33 million to turn an unfinished hotel on Sweet Home Road near the UB campus into a student housing complex.
That project neighbors the $50 million The Station student housing complex, which will have 196 apartments when it opens in August. The Station, developed by Landmark Properties LLC of Atlanta, is nearly sold out.
UB is the primary target, but students from Daemen College, SUNY Erie and SUNY Buffalo State are among those leasing the apartments. Canisius College, D’Youville College and Medaille College students have also been targeted.
The housing is for incoming freshmen all the way through post-graduate programs.
“You have to be aware of what’s going on,” said developer Paul Bliss, who owns several off-campus apartment buildings for college students. “Companies like Auden and Landmark have raised the bar, and that’s good thing for everyone. What they are developing now is becoming the norm.”
Frank Chinnici, whose company Legacy Development built the Axis 360 student apartments on LaSalle Avenue in Buffalo, is expanding Axis 360. Attractions and amenities are mandatory when building student housing complexes, he said, which is why he’s added bike storage and pet-washing stations.
“If you aren’t top-notch, your apartments will sit empty,” Chinnici said. “Now everyone tries to top the next guy. It is a matter of being one up on the next guy. What you want is a place where students think it is a cool place to live.”