One of the few construction cranes currently poking above Philadelphia rises at 4109 Walnut St., where Campus Apartments, which manages 32,000 student “beds” in private housing at colleges across the U.S., has put contractor L.F. Driscoll to work building the landlord’s first hotel, a 136-room Homewood Suites, to be run by Philadelphia-based Hersha Management.
Based just down the block from the hotel site and still a major landlord for students at the University of Pennsylvania, where it got its start, Campus Apartments turns 50 years old this year.
Founder Alan Horwitz is chairman; David J. Adelman, who grew up around the corner from Horwitz in Wynnefield, at the other edge of West Philly, is chief executive and a driving force in the company’s ongoing diversification, which includes a proposal for more than 100 apartments elsewhere on the hotel block.
The partners also plan two 20-story towers in the 4100 block of Chestnut St., whose owner, Graphic Arts Inc., recently relocated to Kensington after merging with Smith-Edwards-Dunlap Co.; with further proposals for properites north to Market Street. And they’re preparing to build a dorm for St. Joseph’s University on City Line Ave., which is also in expansion mode.
The company also manages Campus Technologies, which connects student buildings to Internet and video services for students, notorious bandwidth hogs.
Campus built 24 luxury condos (one sold for $1 million, a West Philly record) on the site of a former nursing home in the 4200 block of Pine St. The firm had plans to add office buildings to absorb rising rents for university and medical-related space in University City when the real estate financing market collapsed in 2007. Apartments are still relatively easy to finance thanks to Fannie Mae “multifamily” lending programs, Adelman told me.
A partner with FB Capital Partners boss Michael Foreman in the nascent Franklin Square investment fund group, Adelman says he’s trying to lure venture capitalists from West Conshohocken and the Main Line into University City, where the neighbors include Ira Lubert and his Independence funds group, which manage $12 billion for clients including Pennsylvania state pension funds from offices at Cira Center.