This week the Bloomington City Council heard from residents who are unhappy with plans to demolish six historic houses on West 8th Street to make way for a fraternity house. The council doesn’t hold power to regulate the properties, which are owned by Indiana University. But Council member Steve Volan said he was glad to see the group of concerned citizens. IU announced its plans to demolish the historic houses and sell the vacant lot to the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.
“I’m really angry at the Fiji house – and this is really about power and money” said
Sandy Cole, who lives about two blocks from the proposed fraternity house. Speakers also took aim at IU for agreeing to the deal. Because of IU’s status as a state institution, it is not subject to the same city ordinances that could make it difficult for the fraternity to demolish the houses on its own. Melissa Cox-Ash said the houses are important elements of a well-preserved historic district.
Although the city government is not involved in the deal, speaker Micol Siegel said the demolition of historic houses fits with other recent developments in the city. She said Bloomington is increasingly catering to affluent students. The Bloomington Historic Preservation Commission has written a letter to IU in opposition to the project, but so far the university has said it plans to move forward with the sale.