Case Study

Mississippi State University
Starkville, Mississippi


Designing Our Campus Project, 2013 to 2016

Demographic Perspectives has been working with Mississippi State University on housing-related projects since 2013, when DP surveyed graduate students and faculty about their housing needs. Projects completed for MSU have made use of a full arsenal of analytic tools, including student and faculty housing demand surveys, retail and rental market analyses, stakeholder interviews, and focus groups.

2016 Aiken Village Market and Feasibility Study

In 2016, DP was engaged along with U3 Advisors for a housing market analysis for a potential mixed-use undergraduate student housing and retail project on the edge of the MSU campus. DP worked with U3 Advisors to perform a housing rental market analysis and feasibility analysis and a retail market analysis in order to assess the demand for a potential mixed-use complex on the Aiken Village site. This project would give MSU the opportunity to go beyond simply updating a few aging buildings, into creating a new gateway for the campus. A survey gauged the housing, retail and transportation preferences and needs of the MSU undergraduate student population.

Stakeholder and Student Interviews

DP conducted in-person and phone interviews with a wide range of University stakeholders and students, to ask about current housing choices and preferences, and to evaluate the proposed new housing at Aiken Village. Conversations covered topics such as unit types, building features and amenities, priority populations, retail options, residential life programs, transportation needs and housing policies.

Off-Campus Housing Market Analysis

DP conducted an analysis of the residential rental environment, examining the number of beds available, price points, and locations to guide pricing for potential MSU housing for testing in the survey.

Retail Market Study

DP studied the local retail market to determine demand for potential retail with housing on the Aiken Village site. DP evaluated the type of retail and measured the size and potential retail preferences of various University and local community populations.

Student Survey and Demand Analysis

Undergraduate students were surveyed to help MSU determine if there was sufficient demand for apartment or suite housing, and to refine understanding of student needs and preferences regarding a potential new MSU housing complex. Special attention was paid to measuring differential demand from a range of student populations.

Spending Analysis

In 2016, the National Strategic Planning & Analysis Research Center (NSPARC) had conducted a study of students, faculty, and local residents in Starkville, MS to assess consumer spending power. DP utilized the existing NSPARC survey database to conduct a custom analysis for MSU undergraduate students only, looking at their current expenditures and their retail preferences, in order to measure demand for a new shopping center with specific retail options in Starkville, MS. The analysis reinforced the conclusions drawn from the DP student survey and the retail market study.


DP doesn’t only mine data, though they do that very well through surveys, focus group discussions, and market scans. It was their excellent analysis and presentation of data that helped frame the future discussions and decisions that led to the successful opening of our mixed-use undergraduate housing development in August 2019. Thanks to the DP team for a long and successful relationship with our University.

Les Potts, Associate Vice President, Administration
Mississippi State University


Actionable Outcomes:

  • Determined that, in order to cover development costs, rental rates in new housing would need to be at the high end of the local market.
  • Confirmed that students would highly value living in MSU-affiliated housing and particularly apartments.
  • Established the strength of demand for mixed-use development, and predicted that this would lead to increased revenue, given the excellent location and opportunities for neighborhood revitalization.
  • Identified top retail options preferred by undergraduate students and quantified spending power of undergraduates.
  • Concluded MSU should proceed with mixed-use development. The new College View development is scheduled to open in Fall 2019.

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