City courts fraternity

January 15, 1991|By Maria Mallory

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., the nation's first black Greek-letter organization, whose membership roster includes the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and New York Mayor David Dinkins, is considering moving its national headquarters to Baltimore, fraternity General President Henry Ponder said yesterday.

At a meeting over the weekend, the Alphas' relocation committee had, in fact, chosen Baltimore's Goucher House at 2313 St. Paul St. as superior to the building in Winston-Salem, N.C., that was vying for the fraternity's approval, said Stuart D. Entwistle, vice president of the Downtown Office Marketing Task Force of the Baltimore Economic Development Corp. BEDCO has been trying since August to lure the Alphas to Baltimore.

But a late bid from a developer in Chicago -- where the fraternity is based -- was presented at that meeting and a decision was postponed until that proposal can be investigated, Mr. Entwistle said the fraternity told him.

Dr. Ponder, who is also president of Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., would not discuss the fraternity's plans in detail, but said a decision would be made within 30 days.

The delay was frustrating for BEDCO, which sees landing the headquarters of such a prestigious fraternity as a boon for the city.

"We conquer our competition and come to find out that there's other competition waiting out in the wings that we are not aware of," Mr. Entwistle said.

Fraternity relocation committee members have traveled to Baltimore twice, and met once with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. BEDCO paid for lodging and meals on those visits, Mr. Entwistle said.

Alpha Phi Alpha, which has initiated more than 125,000 men since its founding in 1906, has chosen Baltimore as the location for its 85th anniversary convention Aug. 1-6.

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