Two former fraternity houses to be upgraded for general student housing

Renovations will take place through the 2023-2024 school year once the properties are vacated. The houses will not be leasable during the renovation period. (Melisa Cabello-Cuahutle | Daily Trojan file photo)

Los Angeles-based real estate company Champion Real Estate has plans to upgrade two recently acquired properties along Greek Row for general student housing by Fall 2024. The company made two separate deals to purchase a former Chi Phi fraternity house at 2715 Portland Street and a former Gamma Epsilon Omega house on 624 West 28th Street for a total of $16.7 million. 

The 6,400 square feet property on Portland Street has 14 bedrooms and six bathrooms, and the property on West 28th is 15,000 square feet, with 34 bedrooms and 19 bathrooms. Although both have housed fraternities in the past — the Portland house has also previously been home to Kappa Alpha Order and Theta Chi — the properties were unaffiliated with fraternities and rented out as general student housing at the time of sale.

Gamma Epsilon lost its recognition as an organization in 2017 due to hazing and health and safety violations of the University conduct code. Chi Phi remains a recognized chapter governed by the Interfraternity Council. 

Kappa Alpha Order is one of the six IFC chapters that recently disaffiliated from the University, a move that was denounced by the University Friday. In an Instagram statement, the University expressed disappointment over the organizations’ aim to seemingly “eliminate university oversight” and resist important procedures and protocols put in place to address issues of sexual assault, drug abuse, mental health and underage drinking. The University strongly recommended students to avoid joining the unaffiliated organizations. 

Upgrades Champion Real Estate plans for both properties include the installation of TVs and soundbars in each bedroom, and the addition of lounges and study rooms. 

The houses will be branded under Champion Real Estate’s Victory Student Housing. Victory properties, such as Victory on 30th Street and Victory House East, provide students with opportunities to live in luxury off-campus housing. As part of the Victory collection, the houses on West 28th Street and Portland Street will have similar high-end furnishing and amenities. 

Like other Victory properties, the houses on West 28th and Portland will be fully furnished, “bring your bag and move in” operations, Champion Real Estate Senior Vice President Garrett Champion said in an interview with the Daily Trojan. Utilities will be included as part of rent.

Renovations will take place through the 2023-2024 school year once the properties are vacated. The houses will not be leasable during the renovation period.

Currently, Champion Real Estate is planning to make these properties available to all students at USC, but Champion said he does not rule out leasing to fraternities in the future under a “master lease.”

Champion said the company decided to invest in these properties in part because of the demand for better housing conditions in the USC area. 

“We felt like it was a market where USC students and their parents would appreciate a more clean and upgraded living experience that you’re really seeing with all the new student housing projects that are being built around USC today,” Champion said.

Champion said he believes the properties’ locations will be highly appealing to students. 

“One of them is on Greek Row on West 28th Street, and then the other is just off of Greek Row, which is really the social center of USC,” Champion said. “Because of that, it’s the most desirable place to live for students.”

The Portland and West 28th properties are the seventh and eighth additions to Champion Real Estate’s growing portfolio of student housing near USC. It has also expanded its student housing assets around universities as far east as Syracuse, NY. 

USC is among the many universities across the nation that have seen a growth of private student housing developments locally. Luxury student housing has become a multibillion-dollar industry. According to the nonprofit education news publication The Hechinger Report, an estimated $2.5 billion was raised for student housing projects in 2018, accounting for a total of $138 billion raised for all types of real estate that year. While the expansion of luxury student housing has supplied sought-after living conditions, it has also raised concerns for some students and faculty at schools, including the University of North Carolina, Wilmington and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, that the developments will drive up off-campus housing rents and exacerbate socioeconomic divides within student bodies.