Student Housing: Maps Show Boom from Increased Enrollment

Posted: May 13, 2014 4:56 PM by Nick Thompson & Becca Neth, KOMU 8 Reporters
Updated: May 13, 2014 5:56 PM

Rating: 5.0 (1 vote)

COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri's enrollment surge in the last decade has created a spike in demand for housing in Columbia, as more and more students look for off-campus housing after living in a residence hall in their first year.

Country songs like Kenny Chesney's "Keg in the Closet" conjure up images of an old, run-down house, blocks away from campus, where everyone is just "hanging around." Some MU students live in Greek housing or they rent at homes just blocks from campus, which fits into the mold of what is generally perceived as less than elaborate, traditional college living.

However, many MU students are moving into posh complexes that have popped up in Columbia since 2008. Many new developments feature spacious living areas, swimming pools, gyms and other lavish amenities.

For example, with a lease at Brookside on College, residents get access to utilities, cable TV, appliances, Wi-Fi, a fitness center, a student union and a private parking garage. Renters also get a city bus pass.

Since 2011, more than 2,000 residents began to call downtown Columbia home after developers built multi-story developments.

In the past few months, city leaders have told the community that this development has strained the city's ability to provide adequate transportation and infrastructure to the downtown area.

Downtown development has dominated the conversation at city hall in recent months, with many residents calling for developers to help cover the costs for infrastructure improvements to make sure downtown can handle the impact of more major projects.

Most recently, First Ward Councilwoman Ginny Chadwick expressed interest in rescinding the city's development agreement with Opus Development Group, which wants to build a 250 bed complex downtown. The city council could rescind the agreement after a group called Repeal 6214 petitioned the city and asked leaders to scrap the agreement.


The University of Missouri has increased campus enrollment each fall semester dating all the way back to 1995, when 22,313 students were enrolled.

On-campus enrollment for the 2012 fall semester hit 32,561 students, the highest enrollment number in university history.

2013 marked the first drop in enrollment numbers in 18 years.

Enrollment decreased by 105 students between the 2012 and 2013 fall semesters.

Freshman enrollment jumped from 7,405 students in 2011 to 7,706 students in 2012.

Click here to see how student enrollment has grown since 2002.


The growth in student enrollment at MU has created a golden opportunity for student housing developers.

After spending their first year in a residence hall, many MU students have swarmed to large apartment complexes that are marketed heavily to students.

Before 2008, Columbia had just a few complexes with more than 300 beds. Developers built most of these complexes in south Columbia on Old 63, including Copper Beech Townhomes, Grindstone Canyon, The Reserve at Columbia and Campus Lodge.

In 2008, developers started the building boom that has gone unabated. Some local developers are now taking part, as well as national corporations and partnerships with large portfolios of student-centric projects.

Local developers Nathan and Jon Odle have built up and built out with the Brookside developments. In the last five years, the Brookside complexes have added nearly 1,500 beds in Columbia. In 2008, the Odles built Brookside townhomes a few miles south of the MU campus on Old Plank Road. In 2012, the Odles added the high-rise Brookside Downtown and Brookside on College.

Large student housing companies like Aspen Heights and American Campus Communities have also become market players in Columbia.

American Campus Communities opened the Cottages at Columbia in 2008.

Columbia saw a slowdown in student housing construction from 2008-2010. The Great Recession slowed construction nationwide.

This chart shows trends in the City of Columbia's construction permit activity. From 2008-2010, the city only signed off on 124 permits for high density apartment units. In 2011, the permit process sped up again and the city signed off on 493 units.

From 2011-2013, developers built and started housing tenants at The Grove, Aspen Heights, The Domain at Columbia, Brookside Downtown, Brookside on College, The Lofts at 308 Ninth and at The Pointe at Rock Quarry Park.

The map below shows the student housing landscape in 2007. It is important to remember KOMU 8 News has only included complexes marketed heavily or exclusively to students in this discussion. Some non-students live at student-centric complexes and some MU, Stephens College and Columbia College students live at complexes not marketed as such. Click on the pins to see what year the complex opened and how many bedrooms it provides.

The map below shows the student housing landscape as it was in the fall 2013 semester. Note the increase in clusters of complexes downtown and near the intersection of Bearfield Road and Grindstone Parkway. Click on the pins to see what year the complex opened and how many bedrooms it provides.


Developers have looked to continue building up and out in Columbia. The city has tried to work with American Campus Communities, the Opus Development Group and Collegiate Housing Partners as they look to add hundreds of beds in downtown Columbia.

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