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FAYETTEVILLE -- One of the University of Arkansas' oldest fraternities is planning a new house northeast of Maple Street and Storer Avenue, across from the Pi Beta Phi Centennial Gate.

Planning commissioners on Monday approved designs for the 16,000-square-foot structure, which will house the Alpha Omicron chapter of Kappa Alpha Order.

Fayetteville Planning Commission

In other business Monday, planning commissioners:

• Approved one-year mobile vendor permits for Natural State Sandwiches, 693 W. North St.; The Soup Shack, 2903 E. Zion Road; and Yancey’s Dickson Street Dogs, 542 W. Dickson St.

• Re-platted 21 existing lots within the Summit Place subdivision, south of Township Street and east of College Avenue.

• Recommended rezoning 1.3 acres at 2975 Old Farmington Road.

• Recommended rezoning 0.2 acres at 402 E. 7th St.

Source: Staff report

Scott McLain with the Fort Smith-based McLain Group said his real estate development company plans to begin construction on the 22-bedroom house in October. When completed in fall 2016, the house will have enough room for 40 fraternity brothers and a house mother.

McLain said the house will be owned by a private entity called KAAO LLC and rented to individual fraternity members.

"The men of the Alpha Omicron chapter of Kappa Alpha Order are extremely excited to be working toward our new chapter house," Cole Anthony, chapter president, said by email prior to Monday's meeting. "We are extremely proud of the accomplishments of our members ... and are elated to finally have a place that we can call our own."

Kappa Alpha Order became the University of Arkansas' third chartered fraternity in 1895, according to the national organization's website. The Alpha Omicron chapter leased a house at 112 Stadium Drive from the early 1990s to 2000, when the university closed the building for safety reasons.

According to Parice Bowser, Greek Life director, the university's Interfraternity Council removed Kappa Alpha from campus in 2005 because of low membership numbers. The chapter recolonized on campus in spring 2012. McLain said members have been living off campus and in Bud Walton Hall, across Stadium Drive from Reynolds Razorback Stadium, since then.

"We hope to maintain that presence on campus but at the same time provide a house for 40 members to live in," he added. "You want to keep and compete for the strongest young men who are out there, and you certainly need a house to do that."

Anthony said the chapter has 135 active members and expects to add 50 to 60 more after freshman recruitment this fall.

Alan Ostner, a representative for St. Martin's Episcopal's university center, which is next door to 820 W. Maple St., said he was concerned about drainage problems that could be exacerbated once the fraternity house is built.

Commissioner Janet Selby said she was confident in city engineering staff's ability to oversee the developer's stormwater management plan.

"My guess is that the concerns about drainage probably won't be too much of an issue by the time it's all complete," Selby said.

The developer will be required to plant trees along Storer Avenue and build new sidewalk along Storer and Maple Street. Eight parking spaces will be provided in a parking lot north of the fraternity house, along with seven on-street spaces on the east side of Storer.

The development will replace a yellow Victorian-style house that, according to Washington County property records, has been owned by the Mission Boulevard Baptist Church since 1978.

Matt Hoffman, the only planning commissioner to vote against the fraternity house development Monday, said he was concerned about removing the existing structure.

"To see another significant piece of architecture in my mind get torn down in favor of one of these gigantic Gone with the Wind inspired buildings, is a little troubling to me," Hoffman said.

Kappa Alpha Order was founded in 1865, according to the fraternity's website. It has more than 120 active chapters nationwide.

NW News on 08/25/2015

Print Headline: Commission approves fraternity house designs

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