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Amid growing college enrollment, demand increases for luxury student housing

Take a walk around Aspen Heights, a new 792-bed student housing development near Oklahoma State University, and you might think you wandered into a planned resort for twentysomethings by mistake.
BY SILAS ALLEN Modified: August 10, 2013 at 9:55 pm •  Published: August 11, 2013

Take a walk around Aspen Heights, a new 792-bed student housing development near Oklahoma State University, and you might think you had wandered into a planned resort for twentysomethings.

The development, set to open Saturday, includes an on-site movie theater, a 24-hour gym and a volleyball court. After class, students can study in the clubhouse, or relax by a resort-style pool.

The community is among the latest in a wave of luxury student housing developments that have sprung up in college towns nationwide, seeking to capitalize on booming college enrollment and students demanding amenities they can't find in the dorms.

Generally, these communities are only open to students and offer features that aren't found in a standard apartment complex. In many cases, landlords allow each student living in a house or apartment to sign an individual lease, meaning roommates aren't liable if one of the tenants misses a rent payment.

With the opening of the Stillwater community, Austin-based Aspen Heights now owns housing developments in nine college towns in the United States, including Columbia, Mo.; Auburn, Ala.; and San Antonio, near the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Aspen Heights spokesman Stuart Watkins said college towns offer an attractive market for developers because of the steady stream of students who flood into town every fall.

Universities nationwide are seeing booming enrollment growth. OSU posted a record 25,544 students last year for its Stillwater and Tulsa campuses combined. More students means more potential renters for companies such as Aspen Heights, Watkins said.

Aside from the lavish amenities they offer, student housing communities are an attractive option for older students just because they aren't on campus, said Michael Kollmorgen, an OSU senior.

Kollmorgen, 23, had planned to move into Aspen Heights on Saturday before being told his house wouldn't be ready for a few weeks. Until then, Kollmorgen and his roommates are staying in another Stillwater apartment complex.

Kollmorgen lived on campus during his freshman and sophomore years, but he and four friends decided to move off campus last year.

They lived in a rental house in south Stillwater last year, but decided to move to Aspen Heights this year.

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