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Private Northeastern University dormitory seen as model for other Boston schools

Mayor Marty Walsh touts new Columbus Avenue tower, which its builder calls Boston’s first developer-led, equity-financed student housing project

The lobby of a private dorm, with a front desk and glass doors. Photos by flaunt Boston courtesy of ACC

A private dormitory for Northeastern University students has opened at 744 Columbus Avenue in the busy, busy South End. Its developer, the school, and local officials are touting it as part of the solution to Boston’s housing shortage, which has helped keep the city’s apartment rents among the highest in the nation.

“This new residence hall is helping us meet the needs of Boston’s students while freeing up more housing for the surrounding neighborhoods,” Mayor Marty Walsh said in statement. “We hope this collaboration can serve as a model for more projects in the future.”

American Campus Communities, an Austin-based real estate investment trust that specializes in private dormitory development nationwide, is behind 744 Columbus, which it dubbed LightView and which it says it is the first developer-led, equity-financed student housing project in Boston.

What’s that mean? That American Campus Communities (or ACC) led the development and organized the financing, rather than Northeastern.

The 20-story, 825-bed building is open to third-, fourth-, and fifth-year undergraduates at Northeastern, and includes 12,000 square feet of interior amenity and shared space. That includes a fitness center, a 24-hour study hub, and social and recreational lounges. There is also 2,000 square feet of retail as well as on-site management.

CUBE3 and Elkus Manfredi designed the building, and it features work from artists from Grand Image Art in Fort Point. Copley Wolff Design Group was the landscape architect.

Bright artwork taking up nearly all of a wall in a private dorm.

LightView is not part of Northeastern’s usual student housing lottery. Instead, students lease directly from the developer, which owns and operates the building (though ACC added that students will still be held to the same code of conduct in place in other campus housing spaces).

As for that leasing, it’s been rather brisk: LightView was fully leased nine months before its early September opening, the developer said. A private bedroom in a fully furnished apartment starts at $1,589. That includes utilities.

That makes LightView competitive for the city at large and certainly for the ears, where unfurnished apartment shares can go for a lot more.

A 20-story private dorm rising over other buildings in Boston.
A lounge with a billiard table and colorful chairs,
A lounge with couches and a flatscreen TV on the wall.