After several weeks of facing potential eviction, the brothers of Phi Sigma Kappa have found a solution to keep their house.
With the fraternity’s parking lot purchased by the City of Kent for the construction of the Kent Central Gateway transit center, Fraternity President Matt Speed said the brothers are in the process of purchasing new parking.
“We’ve had that house for 60 years,” Speed said. “There’s a lot of tradition there. It’s not the nicest house, but it’s our house, and we’re glad we don’t have to leave.”
Fraternity and sorority houses, considered boarding houses by the city, must have one parking space available for every bed the house accommodates, PARTA operations manager Bryan Smith said. With the Phi Sigma Kappa parking lot purchased by the city, Speed said the fraternity needs to replace 12 parking spaces in order to avoid eviction. He said Phi Sigma Kappa, located at 216 E. Main St., is looking to purchase parking behind Jimmy John’s as well as a new house across the street from the fraternity.
The new house is located at 237 E. Main St. between Jimmy John’s and the old Alpha Tau Omega house, Speed said. He said the goal is to move fraternity brothers into both houses and share the large parking lot behind it.
Paul Szeltner, a former Phi Sigma Kappa member, said although the additional house would allow for membership growth, he hoped the fraternity would not have to give up its current home.
“Having a newer house would be fantastic for the brothers,” Szeltner said. “The fraternity has been growing in the last few years and getting a larger house could be very beneficial in the long run, albeit a sad event in the fraternity’s history (if they had to move).”
Despite parking and potential relocation issues, Speed said he is looking forward to the completion of the transit center.
“I think it will make Kent more college-esque,” Speed said. “All of us at Phi Sig walk downtown all the time to eat or go to the bars, and I can see those walks being more fun.”
Dan Smith, Kent City Economic Development Director, said the five-story structure would have three levels for car parking and retail attractions along the ground floor.
Speed said he imagines the additional retail and downtown redevelopment will mirror Ohio University.
“That’s the best way I can describe it,” Speed said. “I just think downtown will have more. I’m not worried about traffic getting worse or having the (transit center) so close to our house. I think it’s going to make downtown a lot better for students.”
Although negotiations with Phi Sigma Kappa are complete, Dan said the city is in the process of purchasing Car Parts Warehouse on Depeyster Street. The warehouse will need to be torn down in order for construction to begin.
PARTA was expected to break ground Oct. 1, Smith said, but he does not predict any extreme delays in the completion of the structure.
Smith said the transit center is still expected to open by the end of 2011. If that deadline cannot be met, Smith expects the structure to open no later than October 2012.