Greek Village plans see little progress

Caitlin Cornelius

To passers-by, it’s obvious there isn’t any construction happening on the 1700 block of Fourth Street Southeast.

However, the current parking lot still holds promise to be the location of a 100,000 square-foot, all-greek co-ed housing complex.

Plans for the Greek Village complex have progressed minimally since its conception in October 2004.

Other construction projects at the University have taken priority, Jerry Rinehart, vice provost for student affairs said.

“We need to see how things settle down with the rebuilding of 35W and the stadium construction before the regents are going to be able to make a decision on this,” Rinehart said.

Doug Carlson, chairman of the Greek Village Work Group, is currently meeting with design firms to construct a pre-design plan for the housing project. The Greek Village Work Group is comprised of past and present members of the greek community.

The pre-design phase is funded in part by the greek community and through a $100,000 University grant given last October.

“(The complex) needs to be competitive with other housing built within recent years,” he said.

The plan will likely feature a common dining hall, high-speed Internet connections and an exercise center in order to compete with area apartment complexes.

Approximately 300 greek chapter members will be able to live in the apartment-style complex upon its completion.

Carlson said all the greek houses on the 1700 block are in need of beds, mostly for first-year students.

The living arrangements will likely be decided by considering which greek chapters are already housed on that block, Rinehart said.

However, he said chapters on other blocks might have an opportunity to buy into the project.

Clint Been, vice president of public relations for the Interfraternity Council, said the idea of the Greek Village project raises some concerns within the greek community.

“By having this larger complex, people think that they might be losing a privacy within their own chapter and that they might be losing a sense of brotherhood,” Been said.

Rinehart said the project should help the greek system become more economically sustainable over time.

“We want the chapters to maintain their identity but tackle economies of scale,” he said. “Many of them are in a situation right now where it’s very hard to do anything other than break even at best.”

If the project is successful, it could be replicated in different locations within the greek community.

Current chapter houses will still remain, since the complex is only supplemental housing and many chapter houses are historically significant and can’t be demolished.

Carlson said the houses could also be repaired while construction on Greek Village is under way.

The University’s involvement in the project is minimal. University officials “want to keep an arm’s length away from it,” Carlson said.

Any additional funding needed for the project will be provided by the greek community.

“The main issue is that it’s a lot of money to put down,” Been said.