University buys Sigma Nu house

GW bought the Sigma Nu fraternity house Friday in what appears to be the University’s first step in acquiring a row of townhouses on G Street for academic use.

Sigma Nu President Mike McElwaine said GW’s offer for the 2028 G St. house was too to big to refuse, considering the house’s poor physical condition and location across from the University Police Department.

Sigma Nu owned the house since 1950.

“I’ll be more than happy never to spend another night there,” McElwaine said. “It wasn’t worth the effort to keep up anymore. The University’s offer was too sweet to pass up.”

Although McElwaine and Mike Peller, managing director of Property and Real Estate for GW, declined to disclose the purchase price, McElwaine said the fraternity received more than double the market value of the house.

Sigma Nu did not put its house on the market and contacted only GW to sell, McElwaine said.

“Property around here is a lot more valuable to GW than anyone
else,” McElwaine said.

Peller said GW paid a fair market price for the house, which the
University has no immediate plans for. He said GW officials will begin to discuss possible uses of the house.

Peller said the University holds an interest in buying any property within its borders and has discussed purchasing other houses from fraternities.

University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, who could not be reached for comment for this story, has said he plans to purchase houses along the 2100 block of G Street for academic use, according to a Nov. 22, 1999 Hatchet article.

McElwaine said Sigma Nu members voted last year to offer the house to GW. After approving the idea, the fraternity’s housing corporation began negotiations with GW last spring.

In the deal GW gave fraternity members living in the house, rooms in The West End, McElwaine said. Sigma Nu met a Feb. 1 move-out deadline by moving during winter break, he said.

Sigma Nu hopes to buy another house in Foggy Bottom by the end of summer, McElwaine said. He said he is looking for a house next to a business to host parties at night without disturbing neighbors.

The Sigma Nu house was remodeled in 1993, but water pipes and some electric wiring were not reworked, McElwaine said. Although the house was brought up to fire code, McElwaine said a visit by D.C. inspectors to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house next door that resulted in an eviction was “the writing on the wall” for Sigma Nu to renovate its house or move out.

McElwaine said he recalled when he saw safety inspectors knocking at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house, which was condemned in August.

“I was sitting outside sweating bullets,” McElwaine said. “It doesn’t take much to get a fire violation. It was a good thing (inspectors) didn’t knock.”

While members of Sigma Nu opposed selling the property when the University made an offer about five years ago, McElwaine said the size of the recent offer and poor condition of the house changed their minds.

“The initial reaction was `go to hell,'” McElwaine said about the University’s first offer.

Now, “Money’s one less thing to worry about now,” he said.

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