Fraternity looks to turn empty house into apartments

The plan would also turn the old Alpha Kappa Lambda house into a restaurant and add retail shops.
Friday, July 13, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:49 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
The fraternity house at the corner of Rollins Street and Providence Road has been vacant since Alpha Kappa Lambda moved out. Alpha Gamma Sigma wants to rezone the property.

MU’s Greektown could have a new addition — a restaurant, retail space and a student housing complex.

MU fraternity Alpha Gamma Sigma’s alumni association has asked the city of Columbia for planned commercial zoning and development approval for its newly acquired property on Rollins Street.

The plan is to renovate the inside of the existing building, formerly owned by MU fraternity Alpha Kappa Lambda, to make the first floor a convenience store and a restaurant and the second and third floors into four student apartments. The outside of the house would be relatively unchanged, except for the addition of a deck, parking improvements and landscaping.

“It’s so new, we’re really just trying to feel our way through,” Larry Schuster, a board member for Alpha Gamma Sigma’s alumni association, said of all the development possibilities.

Schuster said the association had been thinking about the development for years but only recently took action when the Alpha Kappa Lambda property, at 500 Rollins St., which is next door to the Alpha Gamma Sigma house, went on the market.

Adam Berkowitz, Alpha Kappa Lambda president, said his fraternity members have not been living in the building for five years.

Schuster hopes the old building will offer a new way to keep older fraternity members involved.

“One of the issues we deal with right now is that seniors like to move out and have more independent living,” he said. He said he hopes the nearby apartments will offer the fraternity seniors more autonomy but keep them close enough to the house to add some maturity.

The development will be financed by alumni, but profits will be put back into the active chapter to fund operations and to provide the most affordable living arrangements, Schuster said.

The city staff report on the issue said it is “an appropriate means to rejuvenate a dilapidated building in the older part of the city.”

The only staff recommendation was that the plan include a commitment prohibiting the sale of alcohol on the property.

Schuster said he was not surprised by that concern given that the property is so close to the MU campus.

The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on the issue at its Thursday meeting. That meeting is at 7 p.m. in the City Council chambers of the Daniel Boone Building, 701 E. Broadway.

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