Theta Xi submits plans to demolish Bryson, Jackson houses, build new three-story house on First Street property

Theta Xi submits plans to demolish Bryson, Jackson houses, build new three-story house on First Street property

Photo Credits: ALEXA FONTANILLA / AGGIE

Plans to consolidate three Theta Xi frat houses into one currently under review by city planners

The UC Davis chapter of the Theta Xi fraternity has submitted plans to redevelop its headquarters on First Street, which currently spans three buildings. The plans include demolishing two of the fraternity houses and building a new three-story house, according to a notice released by the city on Feb. 25.

The properties marked for redevelopment in the report stand at 503, 509 and 515 First Street Under the proposed plan, the structures at 503 and 509 addresses would be demolished, which includes Bryson House, Jackson House and a parking garage.

Currently, Theta Xi’s headquarters are zoned across three lots, each with its own house.  The fraternity properties span most of the block face located between D Street and the Natsoulas Gallery Art Building at First and E Streets. The plans, however, would merge the three lots, and re-divide the property into two lots of roughly equal size.

Theta Xi plans to keep its Main House intact, which is located at 515 First Street. On the site of the demolished houses, the fraternity plans to build a new three-story building. During construction, according to the project narrative on the City of Davis website, members of the fraternity will continue to occupy the Theta Xi Main House. Once construction is completed, however, the frat will vacate the main house, making it available for new tenants or an outside redevelopment project.

The new headquarters, according to the report, will provide 35 total beds and nine bathrooms. Theta Xi also plans to consolidate its living and study areas into the new building next to a new space for bicycle storage and maintenance as well as a new off-street parking lot.

“The project would also consolidate all living and study areas into the proposed three-story building with partial basement, a detached laundry, storage building, and trash enclosure, and associated site landscaping with exterior meeting and gathering spaces,” the project description in the report reads. “There would also be a dedicated ‘Bike Barn’ with bike maintenance space and a one-to-one ratio of covered and secured bike storage to beds.”

According to the project narrative on the City of Davis website, Theta Xi hopes to address structural issues identified in the Bryson and Jackson houses, noted in a 2016 report by the construction company Pemberton Engineering. The original structures of both houses are over 100 years old, according to the Pemberton report, their construction dating back to the 1910s. Theta Xi’s Main House was built in the 1920s. The fraternity acquired the first of the three buildings during the 1950s.

The project will update the aesthetic of the new building to match the surrounding city architecture while retaining elements of the original “Craftsman Bungalow” style of the two buildings that will be demolished — an architectural characteristic of the early 20th century era in which they were constructed.

“[Demolition] will allow for construction of a more compact, consolidated singular fraternity building that will also create a more urban edge, consistent with city planning goals for the neighborhood,” the narrative read. “The architectural theme recalls the Craftsman Bungalow style of the houses being replaced.”

The Theta Xi redevelopment project is still in the early planning and approval stages, according to Davis city planner Ike Njoku. At the time of publication, the city was drafting environmental impact reports for the development. Once completed, the city will circulate the report and re-open the project for public commentary.

“The Theta Xi Fraternity redevelopment project is at the environmental impact report (EIR) drafting stage,” Njoku said via email. “We are currently drafting the EIR, which we hope would be circulated before end of next month (i.e., May 2019) for the required 45 days comment period.”

Njoku could not specify as to when construction is projected to begin or end for the Theta Xi redevelopment. The California Aggie reached out to members of the Theta Xi fraternity, but did not receive any responses by the time of publication.

Written by: Tim Lalonde— city@theaggie.org