Fraternity may have to sell land to PARTA

Jenna Staul

The brothers of Phi Sigma Kappa may soon find themselves without their 216 E. Main St. house.

PARTA is seeking to acquire 12 parcels of land on the fraternity’s property to construct the city’s new multimodal transit facility.

The land acquisition would take nearly all of the parking area in the rear of the house, making the property non-compliant with city zoning codes for boarding houses and forcing the fraternity to leave.

The fraternity was notified of the land acquisition at a Kent Planning Commission meeting. PARTA officials said they hope to break ground on the $26-million Gateway Project in October.

Frank Hairston, PARTA’s director of marketing, said PARTA staff members have contacted the fraternity and are currently trying to “work with the people by giving them a fair market value,” rather than obtaining the property through eminent domain.

Hairston said PARTA will likely acquire land behind several fraternity houses along Main Street, but because Phi Sigma Kappa’s house sits farthest back from the road, the acquisition will take up most of its parking and make the home non-compliant as a multiple person dwelling.

A member of Phi Sigma Kappa, who declined to give his name because he is not permitted to comment on the matter, expressed dissatisfaction at PARTA’s proposal to buy a portion of the property. He said that the fraternity does not plan to leave and is attempting to find other parking arrangements.

Hairston said PARTA and the city planned to acquire the property several years ago when the multimodal facility was in its planning stages.

“I think my personal feeling is that they’ve known from the time that the land was picked for the site of the Gateway Project that there was a possibility for the property to be acquired,” Hairston said.

Contact editor Jenna Staul at [email protected].