Sigma Nu makes Greek Village debut

Samantha Donegan

House is first of six

Cash Lawley, president of Sigma Nu, stands in front of the construction site of Sigma Nu’s fraternity house. Sigma Nu is the first of an expected to be six Greek houses on Campus Center Drive. Caitlin Sirse | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

VIEW Sigma Nu blueprints.

The sound of power drills and hammers fill the construction site across from the Student Recreation and Wellness Center.

The sound creates the framework for the new Sigma Nu house being built as part of the new Greek Village at Campus Gateway.

New Sigma Capital Partners, LLC, is leasing and developing university property on Campus Drive for fraternities and sororities to build new houses. The land is in conjunction with the Greek houses already on Fraternity Circle. Gill Herrick and Don Flower, owners of New Sigma, said the university and the company hope to build six Greek houses in total on the land.

“Over the last six years, Don and I have been working with the university and have gotten a lot of cooperation from people all the way up to the president’s office,” Herrick said. “Sometime within the last few years, the university decided to allow us to re-lease this property to build up to six houses over a period of time.”

Herrick and Flower are both Kent State Sigma Nu alumni. The Kent State Sigma Nu chapter has not had a permanent residence in more than 35 years. Herrick said the idea for building a Greek Village was to simply find a house for the chapter.

“We looked, although the city and we were unable to find something suitable,” Herrick said. “The city of Kent was not very friendly in terms of maybe building a new house because they don’t really want the fraternities in the city.”

Tom Clapper, senior assistant to vice president of administration, said due to ordinances and zoning codes created in the 1980s, the city of Kent will not allow the building of Greek houses anywhere but on university property. The Greek houses already located in the city are allowed to stay.

“Because these houses were already existent before they passed the zoning code, they are called ‘non-conforming use,'” Clapper said. “It means that they don’t conform to the existing zoning codes, but they were there first. So they’re like grandfather claused in. With the situation with the city of Kent, it inhibits the growth of fraternities and sororities, hence this concept”

Heather Phile, development planner for the city of Kent, said the city cannot allow houses with Greek letters to rebuild or move throughout the city.

“If they wanted to make them into room and board residencies, they could,” Phile said. “Right now, our zoning codes won’t allow the fraternities and sororities to build.”

The majority of fraternity houses in the city are under R3 residential zoning or commercial residence areas, which does not include Greek Housing.

Herrick said the city of Kent was delighted when they found out what they were doing.

“It solves a problem for them,” Herrick said. “It gets some of these fire traps and party hangouts out of the neighborhood where normal residents complain. Some of these houses were old and decrepit when I was in school, and that was in the 1950s.”

New Sigma does not have anyone right now ready to build the second house for the Greek Village.

Greg Jarvie, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, said there would be no comparison between the current Greek houses in the city and what the new Sigma Nu house will be. Jarvie said the new house would market the Greek Village for other Greek organizations.

“The fraternities have to determine for themselves – what do they want? It’s not what the university wants.” Jarvie said. “Do they want a better environment? Do they want to grow their numbers in the chapter? That’s what it really comes down to, it’s their choice.”

Cash Lawley, current president of the Kent State Sigma Nu chapter, said he is excited for other Greeks to move over to the Greek Village.

“I would love to have the center of Greek life over there,” Lawley said. “It’s a great environment over there. It’s by the rec. We’ll have our own bus route. It’s going to be brand new. It’s going to be dry (no alcohol allowed). It’s going be a great place for younger guys to make the transition from the dorms into a house.”

Jarvie said the living conditions of the Greek houses located on campus will be similar to living in the dorms. The residents of the houses will be charged the same rates as the residence halls, they will have in-house manager similar to a resident assistant, and students will have the option of having a meal plan.

Completion of the house is behind schedule due to approval setbacks through the State of Ohio Governor’s office. Construction on the house was supposed to be completed for the beginning of the 2008 school year, Herrick said. The house is scheduled to be completed by Thanksgiving.

Contact Greek Life reporter Samantha Donegan at [email protected].