DeKALB – A new fraternity house could be available by Northern Illinois University's fall semester after the City Council approved the rezoning of a boarding house at 1114 Blackhawk Road during its Monday meeting.
The applicant, Blackhawk Road LLC, is looking to move the Sigma Nu Fraternity and its 45 members, who are currently housed in a nearby apartment complex, into the property at Blackhawk Road and Kimberly Drive after making approximately $340,000 in upgrades.
The site, a two-story, 12,573-square-foot former fraternity house with a basement, has been vacant for two years. It currently contains 29 bedrooms.
The upgrades will help bring it up to the city's current rooming house regulations, current building codes and into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The first reading and waiver of second reading for the proposal were both unanimously approved.
"That whole neighborhood of Greek Row needs a shot in the arm like this," Mayor Jerry Smith said.
There will be a number of waivers to the Unified Development Ordinance related to the project. At seven-tenths of an acre, the lot falls below the minimum size of two acres for a planned development. The UDO also requires 45 parking spaces for the property and, after some debate, the applicant agreed to allow 42 spaces.
City Attorney Dean Frieders said that because Blackhawk Road wants to make the changes ahead of the fall semester, the proposal comes with an aggressive timeline, but the applicant has thus far shown a willingness to meet deadlines.