Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Valpo Sigma Pi Chapter Plans New House

Fraternity Seeks Legal Damages Before Demolishing Old House

Valparaiso University (compiled by

Sigma Pi fraternity plans to tear down one of its houses and build one that looks more like a traditional Georgian/Greek revival fraternity house.

Before that happens, the Valparaiso University chapter needs to clarify a legal concern about its status in the neighborhood. The legal issues go back to the early 1980s, when the neighborhood at Brown Street and Garfield Avenue was primarily owner-occupied housing.

Although it had been there since the 1970s, the fraternity was a nonconforming use, the fraternity's attorney, Timothy Vojslavek, said.

Neither he nor city staff were sure exactly what the legal situation is, though, and Sigma Pi needs to clarify it before demolition of one its two houses and rebuilding begins. Vojslavek said fraternities, like the neighborhood, have changed since past party days.

"What we're trying to do is improve the neighborhood," he said.

The house the fraternity owns at 803 Brown St. would be torn down, with the house at 805 remaining as temporary housing.

The second house would eventually come down, and the volleyball court at 801 would remain.

Sigma Pi also owns the vacant lot at 807. The work could start after the academic year, architect Brent Wagner said. The fraternity needs to do more fund raising, which began several years ago, Vojslavek said.

Sigma Pi originally intended to improve both houses, which were built sometime in the late 1800s to early 1900s, Wagner said. Because of extensive remodeling and alterations done to both over the years, it's more cost-effective to remove them, he said.

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