This past week, Sorority Village welcomed its first group of residents as three houses opened up for occupancy.
Nestled on the edge of campus, the village's first residents are members of the Alpha Chi Omega, Delta Zeta and Kappa Delta sororities, with Kappa Delta's opening only coming with the Fire Marshal's recent approval.
These three houses, however, only represent a small portion of Sorority Village's planned occupants, as there are to be thirteen residential homes and one administrative house that will have a multiple-chapter meeting space. And for those remaining sororities, their members are scattered throughout campus dorms and, in Sigma Kappa's case (whose expected completion date was delayed by six weeks), a vacated fraternity house.
"For five chapters, they're going to be living in residence halls across campus," said Jeff Cathey, associate dean of students. "A couple chapters, who knew they weren't going to be moving in this fall, maintained a floor in Laurel Hall. Others are, honestly, in a variety of locations as Housing has done their best to absorb them... And one chapter is moving into the vacant Phi Gamma Delta house."
One roadblock for the completion of Sorority Village has been the complexity of the task at hand.
"We were doing two unique things here," said Jeff Maples, associate vice chancellor for finance and administration. "One, the University had to get the site prepared. So we had to do infrastructure, which is a completely different contractor. Then, we were dealing with thirteen different agencies. And even though it was only one project under the state Building Commissions' approval, as a subset, there were fourteen individual projects, with fourteen individual designers... There were so many people involved in the design and the construction... There are so many things at play here and so many factors."
One such factor was the folding of the Nashville-based contractor, TG Constructors. The group, which was contracted to complete the Phi Mu and Alpha Omicron Pi homes, informed UT in May of their bankruptcy.
"We're dealing [with] the surety company and trying to get another contractor to come in and finish the houses," said Maples. "And we're still in discussion with them on this matter... It is a very convoluted process that takes time, but we're trying our best to expedite this."
Regardless of the hold-ups for other houses, to accommodate current residents, a new bus route has been directed toward Sorority Village and plans for the creation of an overflow parking lot are already underway.
Maples said that, by the end of the fall, seven to eight houses are expected to be completed. The entire project, including the two houses which have yet to break ground, is expected to be completed by the start of Fall 2013 recruitment.