The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Fraternity houses will replace nearby homes

This summer, SMU will have 12 university-owned homes demolishedto make way for two new fraternity houses, according to the SMUconstruction webpage. There is, however, a disparity between howand when the residents of those houses say they found out that theywould be required to find new homes and what SMU Realty sayshappened. The only people that were eligible to reside in thehouses to be destroyed were SMU employees.

Noëlle McAlpine, the associate director of the Tower Centerat SMU, had a home at 3004 Dyer St., one of the houses to bedestroyed this summer.

“They’re nice houses, they’re not huge, butthey’re nice houses from the ‘30s and‘40s,” McAlpine said. “They have some character,you know. It’s sad that they’re gonna go.”

McAlpine first heard about the university’s plans to teardown her house and build something new from a woman who joined herweekly walking group one day who had seen University Park’sblue prints for the new construction around December of last year.She immediately went to SMU Realty, which deals with alluniversity-owned property and its tenants.

“Because of the rumors, we had questions, and SMU Realtydidn’t have the answers,” McAlpine said.

According to McAlpine, SMU Realty had heard about theuniversity’s plans to demolish the houses on Dyer but couldnot confirm anything.

“We told them nothing is finalized, and we would let themknow as soon as we knew for sure,” said John Jeeter,accountant in the office of real estate. “And we did.We’ve gone above and beyond what we had to do.”

McAlpine heard about the plans to build the fraternity housesfor Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Lambda Chi Alpha starting in December2003, but she says that nothing was clarified until the beginningof April. What doesn’t make sense to McAlpine is why shenever received a written letter from the university or SMU Realtyexplaining the plans and asking her to move – everything sheknew was hearsay.

Two tenants who have not confirmed their future livingarrangements with SMU Realty are the only tenants to receive anofficial letter on April 16 stating that they must vacate theirresidences by May 31. The Daily Campus asked Jeeter why none of theother tenants received a formal letter asking them to leave.

“We didn’t need to send them a letter beforenow,” he said. “It wasn’t necessary.”

According to SMU Realty, the tenants were informed as early asFeb. 8 that they must leave by May 31. That is when University Parkapproved the zoning for the lots where the new fraternity houseswill be.

“As soon as we were informed by proper authorities, PamMeyer, the agent, verbally informed them of the situation,”Jeeter said. “There has been quite a bit of verbalcommunication.”

The story coming from the tenants is different.

“SMU Realty was upset because it is their job to knowthose houses and what’s going on, and we knew more than theydid,” McAlpine said. “They felt really bad.”

The tenants got several letters from the city that theydidn’t understand regarding plans for a wall to separate theUniversity Park neighborhood between campus and North CentralExpressway from SMU. Then they received a letter saying thatsurveyors might be around and not to be surprised if they were.According to McAlpine, there was no explanation given as to why thesurveyors would be there, just that there was the possibility thatthey would be there.

Jeeter tells a different story.

“They were well aware of what was going on,” he saidwhen asked about why the tenants said there was no explanation asto why surveyors may have been at their houses.

SMU Realty would not allow The Daily Campus access to any of theletters regarding the demolition of the houses due to privacyreasons.

McAlpine was able to relocate to another university-owned duplexon the other side of campus on April 17 with the help of SMURealty.

“[SMU Realty] were very helpful in finding us something,and they’re working to help the other tenants as well,”McAlpine said.

Another resident, Shawn Heilbron, associate athletic director ofsales and marketing, was moved from another university-ownedlocation about two-and-a-half years ago and will move again withhis wife to yet another university-owned home.

“There was talk of the homes being torn down from the timewe first moved there,” Heilbron said. “We didn’tknow for sure until about a month before we had to beout.”

Heilbron also confirmed that he never received a formal letterfrom SMU Realty or the university.

Out of the 12 tenants of the houses to be demolished, only twodo not have concrete plans for future living arrangements. Theother 10 have informed SMU Realty of their new locations.

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