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  • Writer's pictureStaff Reporter

Alpha Phi Alpha's First Chapter House Set To Be Transformed by U.S. Ceiling Corp.


Alpha Phi Alpha™ (A Phi A), the first Black intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity to be established in the United States, is going to have its founding chapter facility transformed by U.S. Ceiling Corp (USCC).


A Phi A was founded on December 4, 1906, at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

USCC is a Rochester, New York based company with a growing presence in Ithaca, New York.

USCC says it is an award-winning New York State certified minority and/or woman owned business owned enterprise (MWBE) committed to diversifying the construction industry. As such, USCC is serving as general contractor for the founding chapter of A Phi A's physical residence hall and program house, the “House of Alpha,” located in Ithaca’s Cornell Heights Historic District.


A Phi A's 11,000-square-foot House of Alpha, located at 105 Westbourne Lane, not only becomes the first-ever permanent residence for brothers of the Alpha Chapter of A Phi A, Inc., but also serves as a catalyst and platform to develop current and future leaders in all fields.


The facility boasts a 15-bedroom house located in Ithaca’s Cornell Heights Historic District.


“As a minority- and woman-owned construction company continually working to build our capacity these past 22 years, we are deeply honored to partner with Alpha Light Fund and the founding chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha on such a historically significant initiative,” said USCC President Melissa James-Geska. "This project represents a lot of firsts, most importantly for our trailblazing clients. To have a place to call home, that you own, right near Cornell University—where everything began in 1906—is beyond inspiring. This general contracting opportunity is also the first of its kind for my organization," adding that, "We have worked very hard to break barriers and strengthen our value proposition and service offerings to be able to execute a project such as this, and we’re very grateful for the trust placed in our team and the opportunity to establish a foothold in the Ithaca market."


A Phi A says it has long stood at the forefront of the African-American community’s fight for civil rights through Alpha men, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Adam Clayton Powell, Thurgood Marshall, Paul Robeson, Andrew Young, Edward Brooke and Cornel West.


Renovations are anticipated to include an ADA-accessible entrance, new mechanical and electrical systems, new signage and flooring, window and exterior siding restoration, sitework and exterior patios, and a structural steel addition and roof deck. USCC was awarded a contract to oversee demolition and abatement, and interior and exterior construction to transform the space for future occupants.


“Just as the founding of Alpha Chapter was like the ‘big bang’ from which all Black Greek organizations sprang, we hope this milestone for Alpha Phi Alpha’s founding chapter both provides significant value for the local Black community and sets a precedent that other Black Greek collegiate chapters across the globe will follow,” said Alpha Light Fund President Dr. Dennis Mitchell.


AEPM International, LLC, a full-service, minority-owned architectural and engineering firm is overseeing the design of the project.


Demolition and abatement for the residence hall is under way, and construction began in July. Prospective bidders interested in the project should contact US Ceiling Corp Preconstruction Manager Rich Nestlen at rich@usceiling.com. Minority and woman-owned construction companies are encouraged to participate.


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