CONWAY — The first fraternity house built at the University of Central Arkansas — Sigma Phi Epsilon — will undergo a “massive renovation” in summer 2020, said Bart Shaw, president of the alumni corporation.
“It will be like new,” Shaw said.
The almost 30-year-old, two-story house is the only privately owned and operated fraternity facility on campus, he said. Shaw is president of the Alumni and Volunteer Corp. of Arkansas Zeta, which owns the house and property.
Shaw said the home’s last major renovation was in 2003, although each May, the home is repainted and cleaned.
“We’re not gutting the house, per se, but we are making massive renovations throughout the property,” he said. “It will include everything from new bathrooms, new flooring, lighting, furniture, interior, exterior.”
The exterior changes will be done to give the home at 334 Donaghey Ave. more “curb appeal,” he said.
Shaw said the corporation has hired Little Rock designer Jonathan Parkey, owner of J.Parkey, for the project and had a meeting scheduled last week with Parkey to discuss the details.
The preliminary estimate for the project is $500,000, Shaw said. He said Nabholz will likely do the construction work, but no paperwork has been signed.
The renovations to the Sig Ep house are planned as the
$7.9 million Greek Village II gets underway on campus. Three, two-story fraternity houses are being built on the east side of Donaghey Avenue, north of the Sig Ep house. Each new fraternity house will be 7,445 square feet. A 4,730-square-foot complex for smaller fraternities will be built, too.
The three new houses, the complex and the Sig Ep renovations are all expected to be completed for the fall 2020 semester.
The Sig Ep house, at approximately 9,000 square feet, will maintain its status as the largest on campus, Shaw said. The house has 15 bedrooms, sleeps 30 to 32 members and has 7 1/2 bathrooms, he said.
Now, two rooms share a bathroom in a suite arrangement. The plan is to make “apartment-style” rooms, with one bedroom — for one or two people — and a living area and bath. “We’re excited about that option,” he said.
“We privately maintain it,” Shaw said. “We serve as the landlord, the owner. We outsource a lot of it — we use property managers; we pay them. It operates almost like a property complex.”
Shaw said the property is more than one-half acre and was purchased in about 1988, the year the chapter was founded on campus.
“We have a volleyball pit and more things than the other properties will,” he said of Greek Village II. “Basically, our model is something you’d see at a large university, like the U of A.”
Gary Bunn, director of UCA’s Office of Candidate Services, is a founding member of UCA’s Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter. He graduated from UCA in 1988.
Bunn said he feels strongly that “our success over the years can be directly attributed to providing a positive living/learning environment for our members.”
He is also treasurer of the Alumni and Volunteer Corp. of Arkansas Zeta.
Bunn said the Sig Ep alumni have been committed to fraternity
housing for the almost 30 years since the house was built, and “that commitment remains strong, as evidenced by our willingness to invest in these renovations to make sure we remain a premier facility.”
“We will do whatever is necessary to make sure 334 Donaghey is the chapter home that our men deserve,” Bunn said.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.