Now celebrating our 20th year, Scion’s history, though modest in its beginnings, is defined by a relentless focus on student housing, coupled with creativity and inspiration to have pioneered many aspects of the industry. Throughout our evolution, Scion has never hesitated to roll up our collective sleeves, combine unparalleled experience with strong conviction of what student housing can and should be. For 20 years, has been a forward-thinking leader in student housing.
A story that’s still being written
Scion becomes largest provider of off-campus student housing
Over a period of 90 days, Scion establishes new investment partnerships with two of the world’s leading real estate investors, adding 32 new communities and nearly 20,000 beds, representing $1.7 billion in project value. As a result, Scion becomes the global leader in purpose-built, off-campus student housing, operating 117 communities in 72 campus markets. The team of over 1,700 employees serves nearly 77,000 residents across the United States.
Resilience Amid Pandemic Challenges
As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, Scion communities remain open at near normal capacity and continue to safely provide all essential services to residents. It becomes clearer than ever that college-aged constituents value the entire college experience, not just taking classes to acquire a degree. Most students choose to continue their studies from the comfort and safety of Scion communities even when classes are online, utilizing the personal space in their apartments more than ever.
Scion at 20: By the Numbers
As of its 20th anniversary, Scion is North America’s largest privately‐held owner/operator of student housing, operating over 58,000 beds and managing $5 billion of assets in partnership with institutional investors, supported by a corporate staff of nearly 180 and a site-level team of over 1,300. During those 20 years, Scion’s Advisory Services group has served 222 clients in 38 US states, six Canadian provinces, plus Mexico and the UK, including 57 engagements completed in 2019.
Scion Expands with New Office in Washington, D.C.
To continue serving its expanding client base, now exceeding 200 colleges and universities, Scion opens an office in Washington, DC. Together with existing locations in Chicago, Dallas, Toronto and Irvine, the Advisory Services team can readily serve all of North America.
Scion Refines Portfolio Composition
Scion sells its ownership stake in some of its original value-add offerings, creating a successful realization as well as orienting its own portfolio toward newer, state-of-the-art housing. Following this disposition, Scion’s portfolio has an average age of under five years and an average distance-to-campus of 0.7 miles. Further, the quality of Scion’s campuses (as defined by enrollment size, graduation rates and academic prestige) is superior to any large, national portfolio in the student housing industry.
Scion Begins Brand Family Roll-Out
Scion officially begins to launch its new family of brands across its portfolio, with the introduction of the Redpoint brand in Denton, Texas.
Scion Completes Largest Single-Asset Transaction
In late 2018, a Scion affiliate, in partnership with sovereign investors GIC and CPPIB, completes the then-largest single-asset transaction in U.S. student housing history. University View is located in College Park, Maryland and was purchased for over $230 million. This acquisition grows Scion’s portfolio to over 60,000 beds and $5 billion of asset value.
Scion Expands On-Campus Housing Management
Following a nationally competitive bid-process, Scion is selected to manage the first-ever on-campus housing at a Southern California community college. The 814-bed project opened in 2020 and serve students from Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California. Scion is responsible for marketing and leasing, operations and all residence life functions, in close collaboration with the College.
A New Leader for Advisory Services
Following a national search and building on Eric Luskin’s legacy, Scion appoints Jay Pearlman as Senior Vice President and leader of its Advisory Services Group. Jay provides leadership for the group’s client work and relations, research, marketing, and product and business development. He also utilizes the firm’s collective decades of transactional and operational knowledge and real-world performance data, working synergistically with its operations group to expand the advisory practice’s suite of offerings.
24 New Communities Added to Portfolio
In late 2017 and early 2018, a Scion affiliate, in partnership with sovereign investors GIC and CPPIB, completes the acquisition of 24 properties, for $1.1 billion. Scion’s earlier conviction about pursuing physical and operation upside is unabated, as this acquisition includes the most extensive value-add re-positionings in the company’s history.
Scion Becomes Nation’s Largest Privately Held Owner/Operator of Student Housing
Scion completes the recapitalization of successful partnerships with Fundamental Advisors, Virtus Real Estate and Arch Street Capital. A Scion affiliate, in partnership with sovereign investors GIC and CPPIB, completes three portfolio acquisitions. Scion affiliates own more than 46,000 beds and nearly $4 billion of student housing. At this point, Scion becomes the nation’s largest privately-held owner/operator of student housing.
Pioneering Brand Curation Efforts Begin
Scion begins the process of developing what will become the sector’s first fully curated, experiential family of brands. Drawing on nearly 20 years of experience operating all types of student housing assets, Scion recognized the need to create a distinctive family of brands for the student housing sector, as well as the opportunity in doing so.
A Founding Father Retires
After a nearly 40-year career in student housing, including service at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the University of Michigan and DePaul University, and later as Scion’s first employee, Eric Luskin becomes Senior Vice President Emeritus, providing continuing guidance and serving select legacy clients. Having won multiple industry awards and authoring countless articles and white papers while leading Scion’s advisory practice, Luskin’s legacy is one of enhanced professionalism, specialization and expertise across the industry.
Scion Expands with New Office in Dallas, Texas
In order to service its growing portfolio and best integrate Dallas-based University House Communities, Scion opens an office in Dallas, in the Las Colinas area. Scion now has offices in Chicago, Toronto, Irvine and Dallas.
Scion Acquires University House Communities and Surpasses 35,000 owned beds
The initial investment of a Scion affiliate, in partnership with sovereign investors GIC and CPPIB, is the $1.3 billion acquisition of University House Communities, a spin-off of the student housing platform of publicly-traded Inland American. Upon closing in mid-2016, Scion operates over 35,000 beds of student housing and has assets of over $2.5 billion.
Scion announces a ground-breaking strategic partnership with GIC (the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore) and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. A nearly $1.5 billion equity commitment provides Scion with the capacity to aggressively grow and consolidate the student housing sector; the caliber and sophistication of this capital also gives Scion the backing to dramatically expand its world-class operating team.
Scion Moves and Expands Chicago Headquarters
Scion relocates to its new corporate headquarters to 444 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Eventually expanding to nearly 30,000 square feet of open and modern state of the art offices, with dedicated training facilities, this new space personifies Scion’s culture and commitment to its growing workforce and is a critical step in the growth that soon follows.
Scion’s Owned Portfolio Exceeds 20,000 beds
Scion partners with Fundamental Real Estate and Saban Capital to make several acquisitions that grow its portfolio to well in excess of 20,000 beds and $1.0 billion of assets. Scion continues to specialize in value-add repositioning of assets in quality markets.
Advisory Adds New Program Services: Program Management and Fair Housing
Responding to more complex client needs, as well as past clients requesting expanded services, Scion’s Advisory Services begins offering program management and P3 advisory and consulting, which has since grown into a major component of the group’s mandates. As ever more university clients find themselves dealing with operational and legal challenges of Fair Housing, Scion begins a specialized practice of advising and training on the application of Fair Housing in on-campus environments.
Advisory Services Expands with Multiple New Offices and Achieves Milestone
While Scion becomes known as one of the top owners and operators in the student housing industry, its Advisory Services group continues to grow in both size and prestige. Scion marks over 150 college and university markets served, with the group’s headquarters in Chicago and with satellite locations in Toronto, Ontario and Irvine, California.
Scion Develops Proprietary Next-Gen Business Intelligence Platform
Recognizing that all available business intelligence tools for student housing marketing and operations are severely lacking, Scion sets out to build its own proprietary software to solve critical operational issues and prepare for scaled growth. Today, Scion has among the most sophisticated technologies available in all real estate, with applications expanded beyond the original leasing and marketing to encompass many aspects of operations, supporting investment underwriting and asset management, and providing data to benefit Scion’s Advisory Services clients.
Scion Pioneers “Market Quality” Investment Thesis for Student Housing
The student housing industry commences a development boom that continues to this day, but while most are focused on high-amenity buildings at campuses of all types, Scion’s investment thesis states that market quality is paramount, followed by the capabilities of the operator, then location of the asset relative to campus and finally the physical asset itself. Scion’s then-contrarian point of view is later proven correct in development and sales trends.
Scion Surpasses 10,000 Owned Beds
Scion continues to acquire existing student housing and surpasses 10,000 beds owned in various joint ventures, with equity partners including Real Estate Capital Partners, Behringer Harvard, Arch Street Capital, NorthStar Realty Capital and Virtus Real Estate.
Scion Grows Executive Team with Key Leadership and Expertise
Following a successful 20-year career as a Wall Street M&A investment banker, Avi Lewittes joins Scion as Chief Investment Officer, adding a sophisticated and global perspective. Under his direction, Scion begins to lay the foundation for what will become among the sector’s most transformative capital relationships and transactions.
Scion is Hired to Manage UNLV’s On-Campus Housing
As part of a team that also includes local real estate firms American Nevada Companies and Vista Group, Scion is hired to manage the entirety of on-campus housing at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. This was and remains a unique arrangement by a public university engaging private firms to operate existing residence halls. Within one lease-up, the Scion-led team was able to dramatically increase occupancy (to 100%) and financial performance. This success continues through today.
Advisory Services Expands PPP Work
Scion is retained by bondholders at tax-exempt bond financed student housing projects in Phoenix, AZ and Orlando, FL to advise on turn-around strategies for non-performing projects. These are among the first of the original wave of student housing public-private-partnerships to encounter performance issues. With its combination of a decade of advising colleges and universities, along with its growing operational expertise, Scion is uniquely qualified to assist these projects and their bondholders.
Scion Capitalizes on Operational Value-Add Acquisitions
With property values still depressed and many commercial real estate investors on the sidelines, Scion begins aggressively buying 5- to 15-year old purpose-built student housing. Though not particularly old, many of these properties need operational repositioning. In the course of these investments, Scion refines many of the operational strengths that are its hallmarks to this day.
Advisory Services Expands to Canada
Scion is selected by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology to develop a comprehensive housing strategic plan. After working on 70 campuses in the United States, this marks Scion’s first engagement in Canada
Scion Finds Success During Recession
Amid the global financial crisis, Scion acquires 1,575 beds in two communities at the University of Illinois from a receiver. With the properties less than 50% occupied and with deferred maintenance and operational challenges, Scion raises private funds and closes the acquisition in December 2008. Over the next few years, Scion will transform these assets, lease them to 100% and eventually sell them for a multiple of the original basis, standing today as one of the sector’s most successful operational turnarounds and economic returns.
Value-Add Strategy Is Validated
Scion begins partnering with institutional capital to acquire and rehab existing student housing properties in Florida, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. It is in these acquisitions that Scion pioneers many of the value-add strategies and branding and customer experience initiatives that, while much more refined today, have provided the foundation of Scion’s growth and success.
A New Home for a Growing Company
Scion expands into new office space on West Hubbard Street in Chicago. Through several expansions and renovations, this space serves as Scion’s home for the next nine years.
Scion Sees the Opportunity for Value-Add
Scion acquires its first “value-add” rehab project, the 350-bedroom Heartland Ridge Apartments in Normal, IL. Investing in new flooring and furniture, flat-panel televisions and brightly colored accent walls was a novel concept in 2006 and served as the template for dozens of value-add projects later completed by Scion and emulated throughout the student housing sector to this day.
Scion Acquires its First Off-Campus Student Housing Property
Scion acquires its first private, off-campus student housing: the 160-bedroom “Lincoln Park Townhomes” in Normal, IL, serving Illinois State University. The purchase price is $5.1 million.
Scion Pioneers Early Urban Student Concepts
Scion partners with various commercial real estate firms to develop some of the first-ever purpose-built urban student housing in the US, including The Automatic Lofts, Dwight Lofts and 1237 West in Chicago, and 2040 Lofts in Milwaukee.
Advisory Services Becomes Recognized Leader
Building on the success of the University Center project, Scion grows its consulting practice across the United States. Scion becomes one of only a handful of firms in the country with a recognized expertise in student housing advisory and planning services. Scion also expands its land banking work on behalf of Illinois State University and California State University-Los Angeles.
Expansion into Management
After being successfully financed with $151 million of investment-grade-rated, tax-exempt bonds, University Center is completed on-time and on-budget. Scion is part of the team awarded to open and manage the building.
On Heels of Early Success, Demand for Services Grow
Scion begins acquiring real estate as a land banking partner to DePaul University, with its first acquisition a single-family home adjacent to the DePaul campus. Scion also begins managing student housing when, in partnership with DePaul, it converts a 119-room extended-stay hotel on downtown Chicago’s Michigan Avenue into DePaul’s first housing outside its Lincoln Park campus. The management office in the building also serves as Scion’s headquarters.
Scion Pioneers Early PPP
Scion becomes involved in the conception, financing and development of the ground-breaking, three-university, 1,620-bed collaboration called University Center of Chicago.
An Idea Grows Legs
Rob and Eric meet student housing veteran Eric Luskin, then serving as Director of Housing at DePaul University, who later joins Scion. Scion moves into its first office space at 368 West Huron Street in Chicago. By year-end, Scion has its first clients: Silver Lake College (Manitowoc, WI) and DePaul University (Chicago).
Scion is Founded
The School of the Art Institute’s housing proves so popular that it begins expanding to additional new facilities at 162 North State Street. Seeing the opportunity as demonstrated by these projects and analyzing national demographics to forecast a need for modern student housing, Rob Bronstein and his brother Eric, then practicing corporate law, think of a potential business to address this opportunity. The two decide to launch a company, with its first office in Rob’s spare bedroom.
Scion’s Leadership has First Foray into Student Housing
While working as a commercial real estate broker, Scion co-founder Rob Bronstein works with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to develop its first-ever purpose-built student housing at 7 West Madison Street in Chicago.