Grand Village opens new houses this fall

By Stephanie Brzezinski

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Five sororities and one fraternity at Grand Valley State University will move in to the $7.5 million Grand Village, located at 5050 Pierce St. near the Copper Beech Townhomes in Allendale.

Alan Hoffman is the private developer who funded the construction project, which broke ground last January. After discussions with GVSU groups, Hoffman chose six organizations to receive houses off campus: Alpha Sigma Tau, Sigma Kappa, Phi Sigma Sigma, Alpha Sigma Phi, Gamma Phi Beta and Alpha Omicron Pi. Four houses will hold 25 people and two will hold 30 people.

Santiago Gayton, the fraternity and sorority life coordinator at the Office of Student Life, said he is “personally really excited” for the Grand Village because the initial meetings between the developer and the organizations, both local and national headquarters, began more than two years ago.

“Having some sort of Grand Village has always been talked about within the Greek community,” he said. “I am hoping it creates a great sense of community.”

Gayton recognized that moving can be a stressful and challenging process, which is why he serves as the adviser to the six Greek organizations slotted for the Grand Village. He helps students with policies and procedures that may be unfamiliar, such as paying for rent with 25-30 housemates. Gayton will meet with the groups to discuss any adjustment issues they may have. However, his work is not exclusive to the new development.

“I will continue to serve as a resource for other fraternities with group housing,” Gayton said.

In the future, GVSU students may see more houses in the Grand Village. Though it is ultimately up to the developer, Gayton said they are planning to add four more houses and a community center during the second phase of construction.

“We are waiting to see what the initial phase will look like,” he said. “There may be an opportunity within the next couple years for 10 off-campus houses for sororities and fraternities.”

GVSU senior Blake Stezskal, the president of Alpha Sigma Phi, expressed excitement in moving to the new house. His organization will be the only fraternity in the Grand Village this fall. Stezskal said he hopes Greek life at GVSU will grow because of these houses.

“Our new house will bring our brotherhood closer together now that we are under one roof,” he said. “There is always someone there to talk to about personal issues, to seek out academic help or anything in between.”

Maria Ciolino, a senior at GVSU, is the Sigma Kappa president this year. Ciolino agreed with Stezskal that the new houses are an essential addition to GVSU. She said she is excited about the possibility of adding more houses for other groups to enjoy.

“It is important that each organization realizes this is a privilege so we can continue to prosper as leaders and have a positive impact on Grand Valley’s campus,” Ciolino said. “Also, Sigma Kappa is continuously growing, and it would have been a missed opportunity to pass up something so great for our future.”