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New Sorority Houses and Renovations

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The Phi Mu and Alpha Chi Omega sororities are each getting a house on Sorority Row on the corner of Leverett Drive and Maple Street, and the Chi Omega and Pi Beta Phi houses are getting renovated, UA officials said.

The Greek Life population is growing along with the general student population, so there must be a housing expansion to accommodate the growing numbers, said Jay Huneycutt, the director of campus planning.

Last year, 1,400 girls participated in fall rush, said Melissa Harwood-Rom, the dean of students.

The Phi Mu chapter has more than 350 girls, and the house will have as many as 85 beds.  The chapter raised $11.3 million for construction and planning.

Before construction began on the Phi Mu house, a structure on the property called the Wesley Chapel was used by  United Methodist churches as a space for worship services and weddings.

In the summer of 2013, UA officials agreed to swap two parcels of land near Lindell Avenue and Douglas Street for the Wesley Chapel, in addition to a $625,000 compensation to the Wesley Foundation, said Brian Swain, an administrator at the Central United Methodist Church in Fayetteville.

“The negotiation was fairly close to what each group wanted,” Harwood-Rom said.  “Now they’re by BCM.”

The Wesley College Ministry will have a groundbreaking ceremony for an 8,000-square-foot building April 12.  The new building is scheduled to have a fellowship area, small kitchen, lounge, offices and a small chapel with four residential rooms, Swain said.  

The building is expected to open in January 2016, Swain said.

The Alpha Chi Omega house will be located next to Phi Mu and occupy the space where the Office of Study Abroad and International Exchange is located, Huneycutt said.

Darbie Kuykendall, the Alpha Chi Omega president, has not confirmed when the house will be constructed.  It could be months away, Huneycutt said.

“We have already approved architects for Alpha Chi Omega and Phi Mu houses, so it’s just a matter of time,”  Huneycutt said.

Facilities Management and Office of Study Abroad officials have not yet determined a space for relocation, said DeDe Long, the director of the Office of Study Abroad, via email.

Pi Beta Phi and Chi Omega houses are undergoing renovations, which is bittersweet for some sisters, said Betsy Blessen, a senior Chi Omega sister.

“It will be good because we will have a covered parking lot and new rooms, but I’m sad because they’re updating the attic that houses 16 girls,” Blessen said.  “I lived there one semester, and it was the best bonding experience, you know, because when will I ever do that again?"

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