After years of waiting, 14 Greek organizations will soon have on-campus houses.

Construction trucks will plow through USF again in May to break ground for a $14.5 million Greek housing project to be completed by August 2003.

The project is a Residence Services plan that will provide seven buildings projected to house 14 Greek organizations on campus. This will provide eight fraternities and six sororities with 344 beds in their own houses.

Two organizations will be housed per building, and a wall will divide the house, giving each side its own main entrance.The plan is expected to have eight, 3-story houses with 28 beds and six, 2-story houses with 20 beds.

Harold Nixon, vice president for Student Affairs, said the Residence Life Enhancement Phase II-A plan, which will also include building residence halls on Maple Drive, will cost about $22 million.

Tom Kane, director for Residence Services, said the university bought bonds it could use them later for special-purpose housing. Kane said the bonds will be sold in March, and the money collected from rent will pay for the cost of the bonds.

“It’s like a mortgage payment every year,” Kane said. “And the rent from houses pays the bond.”

The annual rate for rent is $105,380, and each Greek organization will choose how to divide the rent between its members, Kane said.

Kane said the rent collected from students’ rent throughout the year will be deducted from the annual rate, and it’s their responsibility to pay the difference.

“There is a contract with each student and the student’s rent is charged during the year,” Kane said. “How we get there is up to each fraternity and sorority.”

The Greek houses will be located on a golf driving range located next to the Village apartments at the northeast corner of Fletcher Avenue and Maple Drive.

Kane said the housing site will extend into 13 buildings of the Village that will be closed in May so they can be removed, and the residents can be relocated.

“We sent a letter during room sign-ups that they have a special day to relocate and an extra choice,” Kane said. “We are tearing out the closest buildings (by Greek housing), and they will be well on their way to being gone in June.”

Kane said the remaining buildings, which were originally planned to be built as temporary housing, will be removed in May 2003.

The new houses will be called Greek Park and will allow the organizations to have their own community on campus. Kane said the organizations will have the opportunity to add more features to the houses than residence halls, such as thicker carpet or ceramic tile.

Kane said if a Greek organization wants to add features such as these, they have to provide the money from their own funds.

The USF Greek Housing Association will be meeting over the next six months to discuss with the architects the final changes the organizations want to make to the houses.

Merrie Beth Neely, president of USFGHA, said the organizations can use money to pay for improvements from membership fees, donations from Greek alumni or fund-raisers.Neely, also the president for Kappa Delta housing corporation, said the sorority still has money from fund-raising when the Greek housing was going to be established six years ago.

“But after that we couldn’t ask for donations because alumni didn’t want to donate when they don’t know what their money is going toward,” Neely said. “Now we are going to start again because we have a plan, location and opening date.”

Neely said USFGHA will form rules similar to the rules students have in the dorms for the Greek organizations to follow in the houses. However, Neely said they may restrict alcohol on their property, while dorm residents are permitted to have alcohol in the building if they are 21 or older.

Neely said plans to build the Greek community began in the 1960s, and about six years ago the intended site was on Sycamore Drive, but the organizations did not have the money to get a loan.

“We are excited to have a house and a meeting place,” Neely said. “There is going to be a big improvement for Greek life on our campus and other houses near campus.”