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Some Greek houses getting makeovers

The city’s utility work adds to the construction bustle in Greektown
Thursday, July 26, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:33 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008
More than 40 construction workers are helping to renovate the Sigma Phi Epsilon house on Kentucky Boulevard near Providence Road.

COLUMBIA—For most of the summer, MU’s Greek houses have looked much as they usually do, albeit without the Greeks — green lawns, blooming flowers and clean sidewalks. Now, with the start of the fall semester just weeks away, the situation’s a little dustier.

Over the past few weeks, fraternities, sororities and the city of Columbia have been busy with construction projects in Greektown, a square of area outlined by Rollins and Providence roads, Kentucky Boulevard and Maryland Avenue. The work has already caused some problems, in particular for fraternity Rush Week. The annual courtship between frat houses and potential new members took place in June this summer instead of August, meaning that the houses were being showcased while construction was under way.

Kyle Ayers, vice president of programming for Sigma Phi Epsilon on Kentucky Boulevard, said showing the fraternity’s house during rush was difficult, although the end product of the chapter’s $2.6 million renovation would be worth it.

“It was hard to go through the house because people couldn’t really visualize what it would look like with the construction,” Ayers said. “But we had mock-ups, furniture samples, and we signed some guys. I’m really happy with how the house will look.”

Ayers said the work, which is being funded by alumni donations, contributions from the national chapter and members’ housing payments, should be completed by Aug. 3. The house is undergoing a complete renovation, down to the wiring and plumbing, and it will feature suite-style rooms and a “really nice, very modern” look, Ayers said. The completed building will have a capacity of 64 members, a larger number than ever before. Members will start moving in Aug. 13.

Matt Meis, president of Delta Tau Delta fraternity on Rollins, said the chapter is renovating its entire house over the next three to four years. This summer’s project includes putting in central air-conditioning, renovating the house’s second floor with new windows, doors and carpet, and landscaping. Meis was happy to show the house during Rush Week, although it presented some difficulties.

“The thought of a house being renovated and in great shape in the fall, I think it’s actually helped us,” he said. “The guys going through formal rush saw that changes were being made; it’s good for them to see it happening.”

Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, which is purchasing the old Delta Chi property, is moving into a new house that, during rush, was not ready to be occupied. The fraternity’s officers could only speak to potential new members on the front lawn of the new house on Stewart Road. Brett Anwander, president of Lambda Chi, said he is happy about the move, although the fraternity was unable to sign up any new members during formal rush.

“We’re really happy that we have a house to call our own,” Anwander said. “It’s smaller, but we’ll be able to have all of our new members move in, and we’re looking into additions down the road.”

Lambda Chi plans to put about $100,000 worth of renovations into the house by Aug.11, including a remodeled kitchen, new carpet and new furniture.

Gamma Phi Beta, a sorority on Richmond Avenue, demolished its annex this summer to provide parking for students in the fall. Shelli Thelen, chapter adviser, said the annex was too old to remodel and that losing the living space would not be an issue.

“Parking is a campuswide problem, and we’re still open to the option of adding on to our existing house in the future,” Thelen said.

The new parking lot will provide 35 spots; sorority members who don’t live in the house will get first dibs on the $500-per-semester spots.

Kappa Alpha Theta, a sorority on Kentucky Boulevard, remodeled its bathrooms and laundry room this summer, which president Cara McLaughlin said was part of renovations that began a few years ago. The renovations are funded by nondeductible alumni donations, and the bathrooms alone cost an estimated $100,000, McLaughlin said.

“Big houses require a lot of upkeep,” she said. “And having a beautiful living space is a real draw for girls.”

In addition to fraternity and sorority renovations, the city of Columbia is doing work in the area.

Connie Kacprowicz of Columbia’s Water and Light Department said workers are moving Greektown’s electric lines underground. The city is blocking off areas of Richmond Avenue to do the work, as well as taking over some fraternities’ parking lots. Kacprowicz said she hopes the project will be done by Aug. 12.

“We’re hoping to get the job completed before sorority recruitment starts,” Kacprowicz said. “It’s for aesthetics and safety, it’s better to have these lines underground because of tree limbs and weather.”


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