Upscale Student Housing

Judging by the new townhouse development at the corner of Princess and Albert streets, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re in downtown Toronto or Montreal, not the infamous Queen’s University student ghetto in Kingston.

But these three-storey, red-brick townhouses, with rooftop patios and built-in barbecues, were developed here by Varsity Properties for a reason: They’re the new face of student housing.

“Students these days are choosing to live in accommodations like they had back home, with nice bathrooms and a new kitchen with good appliances,” A. J. Keilty, president of Varsity Properties and member of the Queen’s class of 2002, says during a recent tour of a 30-unit development in the final stages of construction. “They don’t want a 100-year-old building in bad condition. Bad housing is no longer a badge of honour.”

Granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Full bathrooms shared by only two people. WiFi. Washer and dryer. Twice monthly cleaning service for bathrooms, kitchens and other common areas. It’s how more and more students want to live now, and Mr. Keilty and his partners, all Queen’s class of 2002 grads, are happy to help them.

Formed in 2003 with three former roommates, Varsity Properties owns about $30-million worth of real estate in Kingston and houses about 400 tenants in its various properties. But with $70-million in its development pipeline, the company is expanding within Kingston and to Oshawa and Guelph, hoping to woo students at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and the University of Guelph, respectively. It expects to have 1,200 beds in Ontario by the start of the 2014 school year.

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