184 High Street, formerly known as Beta Theta Pi (Beta), has officially been put up for lease or for sale.
On Sept. 15, 2015, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Rick Culliton announced via email that any University student found in 184 High Street without permission from the University and the organization that owns the house will be found in violation of the Code of Non-Academic Conduct. In addition, students found entering without permission may face criminal charges through the Middletown Police Department.
Since this announcement, 184 High Street has remained empty and off-limits, until the decision to lease the property was made the other week.
“[The decision to] lease [or to sell] it was just to get some income,” Trevor Davis, the commercial real estate broker, said. “Without the fraternity, there isn’t much income…. It’s a typical commercial deal but with the relations to the University, it’s a little different.”
Davis spoke about why the owners may prefer to lease the house rather than sell it outright.
“[If] it is available for lease, so they can lease it to somebody for awhile and [eventually] have the opportunity to put it back into use as a fraternity,” he said. “That is still a possibility.”
Although it is just the beginning, Davis explained that there has been some action in terms of tentative leasers contacting him.
“Investors like university apartments, so I expected to get some earlier action,” Davis said. “[It] depends on the city zoning…finance and inspections. There’s a lot of due diligence that goes into determining if the property is going to be purchased and for what use.”
Davis added that because the building is laid out as a rooming house, some interested parties are considering renting the space for use as apartments or offices. He added that this is subject to the zoning policies.
According to University President Michael Roth, the University does not have any plans at the moment to buy the space.
“I hadn’t even heard that there was going to be a ‘For Sale’ sign,” Roth said. “The organization had said in the past that they would not sell it to us.”
However, Davis explained that he sent over all real estate information to the University.
“The university has not expressed interest even though the realtors have sent the information over,” Davis said. “I don’t know if they have any interest or not but they are one obvious potential buyer. [Potential purchasers include] other investors that do apartment buildings and rooming houses.”
While there is no lawsuit between the University and the owners of 148 High Street, tensions still exist between the two parties.
“[The members of Beta] made it clear that they’re not happy with the University because of the whole University shutting off the fraternity house issue,” Davis said. “But usually when there are disagreements, in the end, these things usually come down to financial decisions. My guess is that whoever can come up with the best price [or terms] will be the ones that they will choose. I’m not counting anybody out at this point. We just started the marketing so we’re not at the point where we have any offers…It will be some weeks or months before I anticipate that we have any real offers.”
While one may think that the location of the house would discourage potential buyers from outside of the University, Davis disagrees.
“I would think that that’s attractive,” he said. “There isn’t that much housing nearby and some people prefer to have private housing that is more flexible. It’s also a nice location and it’s a beautiful building. People like different things, that’s the nice thing about variety.”
Roth added that for whoever buys or leases the house, he hopes the area of campus remains pleasant.
“Clearly, we want the surrounding area of campus to be a good place to be,” he said.
An updated version of this has been make to correct that the house is for sale or for lease.