Since the unfortunate closure of the Sigma Rho Chapter in spring 2018, the house corporation has worked tirelessly to determine the most appropriate path forward for our beloved chapter home at 202 E. Daniel Street. Before we provide an update on that front, however, we would first like to recap key milestones from the last 10 years that have brought us to today.
After a period of disbandment, preparations began in 2012 to recolonize the chapter the following year. In order to provide the new chapter with a home we could all be proud of, alumni worked with the General Fraternity to revitalize the house corporation board and secure financing to repair and maintain the chapter home. With financing guaranteed by the General Fraternity and alumni stepping up to lead the house corporation from Sigma Rho and beyond, it was an exciting time as the undergraduate chapter prepared for a return.
With significant contributions of time, talent and treasure from the house corporation board and several alumni, the newly re-established chapter moved into 202 E. Daniel in fall 2014. For two years, the chapter and house corporation experienced routine operations and began exploring a capital campaign to more significantly improve the chapter home. Regrettably, the results of a feasibility study were not as favorable as originally hoped.
After a few years, the house began to show its age and maintenance costs outpaced the house corporation’s budgeted forecast. The exterior of the house needed major repair, including replacement of the roof, windows, doors and significant masonry restoration. In addition, bathroom accommodations no longer met the needs of our members. Either a significant renovation or sale was necessary.
In 2015, Royal Properties, a Champaign-based real estate development company owned by two Sigma Rho brothers, was selected from several developers as the house corporation explored the potential sale and redevelopment of the chapter home. As financing guarantors, however, the General Fraternity ultimately requested the house corporation explore alternatives that would preserve 202 E. Daniel as a standalone fraternity house. Ultimately, the sale and redevelopment were put on hold and plans began to keep the house in its current form.
Shortly after the chapter’s Installation Banquet in spring 2017, the house corporation began renovating and restoring the property to once again be a premier Fraternity home for current and future members of the Sigma Rho Chapter, as well as a comfortable place for alumni to visit and fondly remember their time spent in the chapter house.
To do this, with funding from the General Fraternity an Indianapolis-based architect and Champaign-area contractor were selected to fully refresh the interior of the house, including completely renovating and expanding the bathrooms to more closely align with modern student demands and current on-campus offerings, and shoring up the home’s exterior with new doors, windows, roof and a significant amount of masonry restoration. Work was scheduled to begin in late fall 2017 with the goal of reopening in fall 2018.
However, due to issues stemming from the undergraduate chapter’s operations and concerns of hazing, renovations were put on hold. Once the decision to close the chapter was made, the house corporation began seeking alternative tenants to lease the property. After 18 months and despite conversations with numerous student groups regarding leasing the property, to date no plans have been solidified. Since no viable renter has been found and the future of the chapter remains uncertain, the house corporation now believes it necessary to divest itself of the chapter home. This decision has certainly not been made hastily or without considerable thought for all alternative options.
After careful consideration of the house corporation’s previous selection process, we have reengaged representatives at Royal Properties, who maintain an interest in purchasing the chapter house and redeveloping the property. However, prior to making any final decisions on the future of the chapter home, we felt it necessary to provide an update to all Sigma Rho alumni. We also want to offer the opportunity for any Sigma Rho alumni interested in purchasing the property to submit a written proposal to the house corporation. To do so, please contact John Reineke (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than 5:00 PM ET on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. After this time, the house corporation will move forward as planned.
We certainly wish we could provide a more positive update on the future of the undergraduate chapter and our beloved home; however, with no definitive date for re-establishment we feel this difficult decision is necessary for the long-term financial health of Sigma Rho. Proceeds of the sale will be held for the eventual return of the Sigma Rho undergraduate chapter and can be used for housing or scholarships for future Sigma Rho Betas.
We would like to thank all alumni who have given generously of their time, talent and treasure, which have enabled the chapter home at 202 E. Daniel to remain for so many years.
Yours in ___kai___,
John Reineke, Central Michigan ’09 Mike Murphy, Illinois ’79 Dan Farmer, Cincinnati ’75 Dan Fogle, Miami ’07