Controversial Developer Finishes Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity House

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A newly-constructed fraternity house is opening in the Hub City for the first time in a long time.

The latest building built by controversial developer Construction Management Associates will become the home of Zeta Beta Tau, the world's oldest and first Jewish fraternity.

Mayor James Cahill was in attendance at a ribbon-cutting ceremony held last month, as was Rutgers Greek affairs dean Joanne Arnholt.

Construction Management Associates co-founders Les Salamon and Mitch Broder also showed up for the ceremony.  Their firm developed the property and more than a dozen others in the neighborhood over the past decade.

ZBT executive director Laurence Boletin said, “Zeta Beta Tau is thrilled to take this important step at Rutgers University by moving into this beautiful new home. Being the world’s first Jewish fraternity, with a 116 year history, we look forward to our rich tradition being an asset to the community.”

The three-floor, 18-bedroom Greek house replaces two earlier structures that stood on the site at the intersection of Sicard and Morrell Streets. One of those structures was described at the February 25, 2013 Zoning Board meeting as "an outdated single-family home."

At the meeting, Planner Keenan Huges said, "Greek life is reviving but many are using informal houses for frats. The University has no plans to develop frats themselves," according to the meeting minutes.

According to MyCentralJersey.com's Keith Sargent, 10 years ago, there were 23 buildings zoned for use by roughly 35 fraternities and sororities on the Rutgers campus.

A handful of those fraternities were replaced with residential apartments developed by Construction Management and their affiliates.

Broder said that today only 17 homes are zoned for fraternity and sorority use, while the number of organizations has increased to 80.

Broder's company has begun development on a dozen multi-unit buildings, all of them in New Brunswick, in just six years.  They have also been generous contributors to the Mayor's political campaigns, as we have reported previously.

The house fronts on Sicard Street, facing the rear of the Rutgers Student Center, and has a driveway accessible from Morrell St. in the rear, along with bicycle parking.

On the inside, the house has three floors and a basement. Two of the floors are bedroom floors, with eight or bedrooms and a single bathroom on each floor.

The other two are public floors, although the first floor has a single wheelchair-accessible bedroom.  A common area and a kitchen are on the first floor; an additional recreational area is in the basement, along with utilities.

Zeta Beta Tau has held a variety of addresses over the years, including 176 Easton Avenue, 94 Easton Avenue, 26 Union Street, and 10 Union Street. 

The Beta Delta Chapter, which is the Rutgers chapter of Zeta Beta Tau, dates back to 1948.  The chapter was defunct during the mid-90's but later revived.

The old ZBT house at 26 Union Street burned down in 1993, shortly after the chapter had lost its formal status.  The frat had already sold the property to the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority.  Today, that sorority has a house of early 21st century vintage.