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Old Posted Dec 11, 2010, 1:38 PM
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American University's growth causes pains for neighboring businesses (Washington Post

American U. has a fairly ambitious 10-year campus plan. The university plans to relocate its law school from the suburban Spring Valley location on Massachusetts Ave to Tenley Circle, near the Tenley metro station. American also wants to build new student dorms on what is currently a large surface parking lot on Nebraska Avenue.

American University's growth causes pains for neighboring businesses

By Derek Kravitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Morty's Delicatessen, housed in a drab brick building in Tenleytown and known across the District for its hot pastrami and matzo ball soup, was never very profitable. Or glamorous.

Its front window featured a cartoon caricature of its folksy Brooklyn-born manager, Morty Krupin. Its owner, the late philanthropist Cy Katzen, believed in the deli and kept it in business. Its customers, always fearful that Morty's days were numbered, would say that the deli would "go as the neighborhood goes."

So when American University took over as its landlord last year after Katzen died and left the building to the university, Morty's was on borrowed time.

"They didn't shut us down, but they didn't help keep us open either," said Krupin, 71, who is retired and lives in Boynton Beach, Fla. "We weren't in their plans and they are the new boss in town." American officials said they lowered the rent to help Morty's get by, but in the end, the deli just didn't make it.

After 20 years, Morty's closed in early November, unable to make its monthly rent. Residents and longtime patrons say Morty's closure is proof that the university's plans for growth do not include many of the small and long-standing businesses that dot the surrounding neighborhoods. American is too tough with its economically vulnerable and small retail tenants, they say, many of whom are still grappling with the recession..."
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