D.C. lists reasons for condemning house

More than two weeks after GW’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house was condemned and the building’s 15 residents were evicted, fraternity officials say they are beginning the process of redevelopment.

The Washington City Rho alumni received a list of the citations from District health, fire and safety officials Sept. 1, said the chapter’s counsel, who requested her name not be published.

The house, located at 2034 G St., was condemned during a surprise Aug. 22 inspection. A housing corporation comprised of fraternity members and alumni owns the house.

Officials said the property was cited for a non-working fire alarm system, another fire alarm system that was not hard-wired, not having exit and emergency lights, blocked exits and excessive waste around the property.

The house and property were inspected in late May and were cited for not having a hard-wired fire alarm system – a requirement for all apartment buildings in the District. The fraternity contends the structure is a residence, not an apartment and appealed the citations. A hearing had been set for Sept. 28.

Residents were moving their belongings in and out of the property when District officials inspected the house in August, which caused the excessive waste, members said.

Of the new violations, three had fines attached totaling $1,500, the chapter’s counsel said. The fraternity filed an appeal to contend the most recent fined violations.

Since the condemnation and eviction, Sigma Alpha Epsilon members have been forced to find housing elsewhere. Some members said they have had trouble finding places to stay because of the District’s tight apartment market.

Many are living temporarily with other members, said Seth Rosenzweig, vice president of the GW chapter.

It’s really good seeing people come together, Rosenzweig said. It’s brought us close together.

The fraternity hired an architect to inspect the house to begin plans for renovation and assess costs for construction, members said

Rosenzweig said the fraternity hopes to renovate the building completely and create an apartment-style housing facility by the beginning of the 2001-02 academic year.

Chapter members are holding meetings in Columbia Plaza and said the condemnation will not affect their upcoming recruitment period, which is scheduled to begin this week.

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