Group renting lures greeks to new housing

Leasing agencies are offering group rates in order to target greek groups in need of space.

Parker Lemke

Fitting nearly 150 sisters under one roof was not an option for the University of Minnesota’s chapter of the Chi Omega sorority.

But come fall, at least a portion of the sorority’s members will live in the same apartment complex apart from the chapter home.

Like other large greek organizations on campus, Chi Omega is turning to private housing — which sometimes offers group deals to chapters — to find shared space for its members outside traditional chapter homes.

Some members of Chi Omega, now in its third official semester at the University, plan to move into the Radius at 15th apartment complex when it opens in August. The new luxury complex offered lease discount rates for groups that could guarantee 25 or more members would sign on.

Chi Omega President Lauren Hicok said the apartment reached out to the group last fall and arranged a shared area for the sorority.

“They told us they would put us next to each other,” Hicok said. “They even offered to set up Chi Omega paraphernalia up in the hallway for us to make it feel like our home.”

Campus Apartments, which manages Radius, has offered similar deals in student communities throughout the nation, said Sarah Tebbe, a general manager for the company.

Because the Radius is filling rooms for the first time, she said, groups have more flexibility when looking to pick out a shared space.

“You immediately start out the year with a core group of people that you want to share an apartment with,” Tebbe said, adding that Campus Apartments has leased its rooms to athletic teams, greek organizations, international students and large groups of friends in the past.

Near the University, the company also manages WaHu Student Apartments, set to open this fall, and the 700 on Washington, which opened last fall. Both buildings have offered similar group deals, Tebbe said.

Local development firm Doran Companies has also offered incentives for group renting to greek organizations, said Vice President of Marketing John Wodele. The proximity of the apartments to fraternity row and amenities like social and study rooms attract greek interest, he said.

“Fraternities and sororities are a distinct marketing segment of our overall target, and we have, and we continue to, market directly to [them],” he said.

Like other large greek chapters, Chi Omega has spread itself across a variety of housing options, mostly in Dinkytown, Hicok said. Some members reside in the 17th Avenue Residence Hall, Hicok said.

She said the chapter  also wants to purchase a house of its own to accommodate about 40 sisters.

While not being tied down to a single house gives the chapter’s members freedom to choose their own housing, Hicok said, the sorority lacks a place to call its own.

“We’re all over the place, in houses and in apartments,” she said.

Interfraternity Council President JD Braun said although the large size of some greek organizations can present some challenges, having a large pool of people can be beneficial when looking for a place to live.

Although he hadn’t heard about the deal offered at the Radius, Braun said members of University greek chapters make use of a diverse range of housing.

“A lot of the fraternities and sororities are pretty spread out around campus in terms of other housing outside the chapter facilities,” he said.

And in a competitive housing market, Wodele said appealing to greek chapters can help apartments fill space around campus.

“I’m sure every marketing manager of every company that owns properties around the [University] leaves no stone unturned,” he said.