The Phi Epsilon (Syracuse) chapter has a storied history since 1905. The Chapter has been an asset to the Fraternity of Alpha Chi Rho since its inception. Many alumni have had an influential role, not only in Alpha Chi Rho, but in business, the arts and politics. Several past National Presidents come from the Phi Epsilon chapter. It has historically been one of the strongest chapters. One of the reasons is its ownership of the chapter house at 131 College Place. The chapter house has remained a constant on the Syracuse campus and enjoys a prime location. The intention of this business plan is to lay out the initial phases. Alumni support has historically shown to be a major contributor to the success of any chapter. Phi Epsilon is no exception.
The property on College Place is an asset that is worth supporting for the continued presence of Alpha Chi Rho. It offers undergraduate men a foundation in life with Landmarks to use as guiding principles. The world today needs young men utilizing our Landmarks to become the future leaders in life. This business plan lays out how economically the Property Association, along with graduate Brothers and the National Fraternity’s support, can modernize the chapter requisite the tradition it merits.
In January 2016, the week before the Phi Epsilon residents moved back into the house, a Winter storm blew in a window causing the pipes to freeze and burst. The ensuing flood destroyed the house, and as such, the house was boarded up and students were displaced into residence halls and alternative off-campus housing. The National headquarters stepped in to assist John Wesche and the Phi Epsilon Property Association to notify the insurance company, and remediation began. Initial insurance proceeds provided the funds required during a period of no income. These proceeds also provided the reserves to hire an architect/engineer to design the reconstruction of the house into a state of the art property. An architect, The Donahoe Group, was selected from the proposals received. The house was gutted and stripped down to the studs in the summer of 2016.
The intent was to adopt a design, solicit costs and rebuild. This investment supported by an aggressive chapter rebuilding plan that will be undertaken and maintained by the National Fraternity and will provide the income necessary to support this endeavor.
The estimate to rebuild has climbed to $1.7 million and, as such, the rebuilding effort was moved to Spring 2018 from the original estimate with the intention of having resident brothers move in for the Fall 2018 semester. Evaluations and offers made to purchase the property have placed an appraisal of $1.1 million on the property. Currently, there is still some debt on the property, yet still enough equity that can be borrowed against. This rebuilding effort will be a combination of insurance proceeds, alumni support and home equity financing. This money plus what is raised by the campaign will provide the capital needed to bring the house into the 21st century and beyond. This business plan is the basis for all parties to move forward with preserving and upgrading the property at 131 College Pace.
It is important to note that Syracuse University has a vested interest in our property due to its location and position at the entrance to the campus. Their latest offer is $2.5 Million dollars in exchange for a long-term leased property on Walnut Place; however, this is not a permanent location. We continue to counteroffer in hopes of a permanent location to build or renovate as another option should we be unable to obtain the funds necessary to rebuild 131 College Place through insurance monies and Graduate Brother donations.
The undergraduate men have been operating as a Chapter without a physical property for four (4) semesters yet continue to maintain a positive attitude about the future of the house. This rebuilding plan also included an investment in the growth and sustainability of the Brotherhood through a National partnership with Phired Up Productions. Phired Up is a collegiate recruitment coaching team that have been helping fraternities and sororities increase the quantity of quality members they attract by doing worldclass research, providing deep level results driven coaching services, and delivering culture changing educational services.
In Fall 2016, the National Fraternity enlisted support from Phired Up for Phi Epsilon with the in-person training, as well as virtual coaching, support and resources needed for healthy fraternity growth during formal Spring recruitment to allow the chapter to build reliable internal systems of recruitment. The Chapter grew to over 40 men in Spring 2017 and was then assigned a volunteer coach, John DiSarro. John, a 2007 graduate Brother from SUNY Geneseo living in Rochester, communicates regularly and has scheduled visits with the Chapter to support their continued growth.
In Summer 2017, as construction plans were delayed due to the battle for additional funds necessary for code compliance from the insurance company, the National headquarters facilitated conversations with local landlords to fund rental locations for the resident Brothers for the 2017-18 academic year. Needless to say, undergraduate morale has been waning as the construction schedule is delayed due to insurance claim challenges.
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The National House Corporation, led by Victor Ramos (Phi Lambda ’91) , in partnership with the Phi Epsilon Property Association developed this plan. Victor is a graduate Brother of Phi Lambda (Penn State), a Project Engineer by trade, and the interim Phi Epsilon Housing Corporation President. He is a Past National President for Alpha Chi Rho and has led successful Business Plans for the rebuilding of Penn State and Purdue Chapter houses in recent years. For questions or comments, feel free to reach out to the National headquarters at 732-869-1895.