Sigma Phi Epsilon bids on house

Sigma Phi Epsilon placed a bid on a brownstone house a few blocks from campus Wednesday.

Members said the fraternity bid more than the $799,000 asking price for the 1016 22nd St. house. This is the fourth time Sigma Phi Epsilon has tried to purchase a house.

If the bid wins, more than 10 fraternity members would live in the house and pay rent to the Sigma Phi Epsilon national chapter’s alumni corporation, which would own the property.

Mike Wasylik, alumni vice president of housing, said the fraternity found the house by “monitoring real estate opportunities.”

“It’s very hard to find suitable property in Foggy Bottom,” Wasylik said.

Freshman Matthew DiGuiseppe, chair of the GW chapter’s housing committee, said Sigma Phi Epsilon began “to take a more proactive approach to finding a house” about a month ago.

The committee finds houses on the market in the area and passes the information on to the alumni corporation, which places bids.

Sigma Phi Epsilon President Joseph DePaola said the fraternity has expressed an interest in three other houses in the past two years.

In spring 2000, Sigma Phi Epsilon considered leasing the 2004 G St. house that Lambda Chi Alpha leases from Sigma Chi.

“We were a little young for it at that time,” DePaola said. The fraternity colonized at GW fall 1999.

The fraternity placed a bid on an L Street house in summer 2000 but declined to buy it after inspections.

“We found some structural damage,” DePaola said. “It would have required too much renovation.”

Sigma Phi Epsilon considered buying a property on New Hampshire Avenue this summer, but not enough fraternity members could break housing leases to move into the new property, DePaola said.

“It’s in the best long time interest of our chapter to have a housing facility,” DePaola said.

Some members said while the house will be expensive, the fraternity is in a hurry to have a place to call home.

“We’re really house hungry right now,” Sigma Phi Epsilon member and sophomore Kevin Barnett said. “I don’t think people realize how much (the bid amount) is yet. Since it’s not our money, we feel like we’re playing with monopoly money.”

“Our alumni board and our national housing corporation are well aware of the cost,” DePaola said. “We understand that’s how much things cost around here.”

Wasylik said the fraternity has faced a tight housing market and expensive property costs in the past.

Members said they are excited but cautious of getting their hopes up about the possibility of getting a house.

“I’m a little more ‘let’s see if this thing actually happens’ before I get excited,” Barnett said.

The location of the house is an important factor in the fraternity’s interest, members said.

“It’s about as close as we’re going to get to campus without actually being inside the historical Foggy Bottom housing district,” DePaola said. He said it was difficult for the fraternity to find a house in Foggy Bottom to accommodate a large number of fraternity members.

“I believe that there is room for about 12 to 13 brothers in this house,” Wasylik said.

Sophomore Sigma Phi Epsilon member Matt Allen said the fraternity hopes to occupy the house by spring 2002 if the alumni corporation outbids other prospective buyers.

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