RPI fraternity considers downtown Troy church for a new home

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TROY, N.Y.—Some new life could be coming to the First Baptist Church on Third Street in Troy.

RPI's Phi Gamma Delta is in talks with the city to see if it could become a reality.

The main part of the church could possibly be a gathering and common area for the fraternity and the attached former school on the other side could be dorm-style rooms for the brothers.

Leaders of the fraternity say they have been looking at a number of options, but the church is one of the most viable.

According to online real estate websites, the price tag on the First Baptist Church is $300,000.

Ben Pringle, a junior at RPI and the president of Phi Gamma Delta, also known as Fiji, says the fraternity has been established since 1848, but never has had a permanent home at RPI.

“It gives us the opportunity to have more brothers live in house and to be more apart of the Troy community as well,” he says.

Pringle says right now, only 24 of his 42 active brothers are living in this temporary housing on the RPI campus.

The search for permanent housing has been actually going on for 20 years, with alumni across the country actively helping in the search.

“It's definitely an exciting opportunity,” says Jonathan Edelen, the President of the Fiji Housing Coportation. “We've been working on this since the chapter was started, so we always wanted to see the chapter move into a more permanent house. I know all the other graduates on the board are excited to see the project through.”

But the Phi Gamma Delta brothers aren't the only ones in support of the fraternity's possible acquisition of the church.

Elizabeth Young, the executive director of the Downtown Troy Business Improvement District, says RPI students are an essential part of the city's economy and believes their presence in the church could only be a good thing.

“They'll make sure the building is well taken care of and kept up,” says Young. “For example, right now if you look at the steeple, you'll notice the paint is peeling off the steeple. I'm hoping that the brothers will make that a priority and to make sure someone is keeping track of that history and really taking care of it.”

“We want to make an impact and that's no matter where we are,” adds Pringle. “If we're in downtown Troy, we're going to try and help out there too.”

The Troy mayor's office and RPI's Greek Life dean Matt Hunt says they are all in support.

The next step is a meeting with the Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday.

The fraternity's leaders says their decision is not 100 percent just yet, they have to make sure it would be economically sound first.

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