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Following an increase in crime in the area surrounding UCF, plans have been proposed for off-campus fraternities and sororities to join Greek Park.

According to meeting notes provided by UCF News and Information, Greek Park II would include additional houses along Alafaya Trail and Gemini Boulevard. Eight of the organizations that have expressed interest in gaining houses on campus include off-campus fraternities currently living in the "Greek Ghetto."

On Jan. 20, a meeting was held with Christi Hartzler, executive director of Housing and Residence Life, where information was provided on infrastructure.

As of Jan. 17, organizations interested in the plans for new development include three National Panhellenic Conference sororities and 14 Interfraternity Council groups — eight of which are currently located off campus.

The first steps in the process are to establish a budget and determine construction costs and gross square footage, according to the meeting notes.

Project financing options are listed as Florida Bonds, a private partnership (build by outside company, managed by UCF Housing), Facilities Development Corporation and Design Build Process.

The notes reveal that mock-up designs for the new houses would follow those of facilities built several years ago.

At a Dec. 17 meeting, an overview of Greek Park was provided, where Curt Wade, director of Sustainability and Energy Management, was present for a discussion on the university's management of any new facilities.

In planning infrastructure, it was said that there is transition power located just off-campus, up and down Alafaya Trail, which supports the idea of moving Greek houses on campus. Cable, electricity, gas and methods of payment were mentioned as well.

"About 6.7 acres has already been approved for 'special interest housing' (referring to Greek Park II) in the master plan," according to the notes. The use of this land for special interest housing was previously approved in the master plan and would not need to be approved again.

Another 6.7 acres or so that is deemed as "protected land" on the corner of Alafaya Trail and McCulloch Road would also be taken into consideration.

The most recent addition to Greek Park was in fall of 2013, when Chi Omega, Kappa Kappa Gamma and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life were built.

The timing of this proposal coincides with a recent uptick in off-campus crime. In fact, crime rose by about 75 percent from 2013 to 2014 in the area around UCF, according to Orange County documents.

Violent incidents in the UCF area have raised concern for students, including those Greek members living in the neightborhood behind The Marquee apartment complex, formerly Sterling Central.

Referred to as the "Greek Ghetto," this area is no stranger to crime.

In March, a man was heard yelling "brim blood" during an alleged shooting in front of the Phi Delta Theta house on Khayyam Avenue. Still under investigation, the incident was possibly gang related, according to Orange County Sheriff's Office documents.

As crime continues to escalate, fear and a call to action have begun to rise from these off-campus fraternity members.

Jacob Milich, president of Phi Delta Theta, said most members of his fraternity would prefer to live on campus due to the safety and advantages that on-campus housing provides.

"We are very aware of the crime that often takes place in our neighborhood, particularly the recent incident that included a shot fired right in front of our house," said Milich, a junior accounting major.

Milich expressed that he thinks it is safer to live in a fraternity house on campus, rather than where he currently lives, and others have agreed.

"We are less comfortable living where we do given the recent increase in violent crime that has taken place in our neighborhood," he said.

For Greek students like Milich, this plan for development may just be the answer.

While the proposal is in its early stages, FSL will be conducting focus groups to gather feedback on the expansion, said spokeswoman Courtney Gilmartin.

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Rachel Stuart is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @RachSage or email her at RachelS@CentralFloridaFuture.com.

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