Jul 072009
Authors: Ashley Robinson

The vacant lot on the corner of Laurel and Howes Streets, left behind by the recently deconstructed Sigma Alpha Epsilon house, is set to become a four-story apartment and retail complex to be called Oval Flats.

SAE members are working closely with the site’s construction company Brinkman Partners to design the space, and while it will not be an actual fraternity house, SAE members will again be able to claim a headquarters.

“Having the building will present with a unique opportunity because even though (SAE doesn’t) have an actual house they’ll have a meeting place for their brotherhood events,” said Terry Dreith, president of SAE and a junior business major. He said the new SAE lodge would help strengthen the fraternity overall.

In addition to the fraternity’s new lodge, plans for Oval Flats currently include: 4,600 square-feet of retail space on the first floor as well as more than 40 flat-style apartments and a covered bike port, according to the Brinkman Partners Web site.

The new fraternity headquarters will be approximately 3,000 square-feet, and its design will mimic the other retail spaces –/including a coffee shop —-/on the main floor of the complex, said Project Manager Kevin Brinkman. In it, SAE members will have access to a study space and a place to eat meals.

While the cost of the apartments has not been determined, Brinkman said people can expect to see floor-to-ceiling glass and exterior balconies in all the units — studio through three-bedroom alike.

The SAE fraternity was shut down in October of 2006 when its charter was suspended by the National Supreme Council amid allegations of underage drinking and other misconduct within the frat house, as reported by the Collegian.

Fraternity members were then asked to leave the house by the national charter and the 83-year-old landmark was boarded up.

After regaining recognition as a fraternity by the Interfraternity Council at CSU in October 2007, SAE was left without a center of operations, until now.

Members of SAE and the Director of CSU Greek Life Sonja Jensen said the house was torn down in early May because the cost of the repairs needed to bring the establishment up to city construction and safety codes was too expensive.

It took some locals several months to notice that the house was gone while others noticed it instantly.

“I actually just noticed today that there was an empty lot where that house used to be,” said nearby restaurant employee Kalia Stone.

“I’m not exactly sure when I noticed it was missing but it was definitely soon after it was demolished,” said Nick Marrapode, a senior international studies major, who lives nearby. “All of a sudden there was no haunted-looking monstrosity outside my house.”

Others said they thought construction of the commercial and residential center would benefit the local economy.

“I think the building was demolished for a good reason,” Marrapode said. “More shops in that area could be a great way to increase the value of the land.”

Other CSU students, however, sat on the other side of the fence.

“I’m mad that they demolished it,” said Ashley Hancock, a junior history major. “It was a beautiful piece of architecture and Fort Collins’ history.”

Oval Flats is expected to be completed in summer 2010.

Staff writer Ashley Robinson can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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