Foggy Bottom has seen 10 U.S. presidents come and go since 1945, but in that time span, there’s only been one GW Deli. If the University has its way, the business as community members know it – a part of local history for the last half-century – will be history within the next 20 years.
When GW filed its 20-year development plan with the city in mid-February, it identified 18 sites for future development on campus. But when proprietors of two of those sites – the GW Deli and the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house on G Street – learned GW is planning on buying their property, it was the first time they had heard their buildings’ futures might be cut short.
GW Deli, a family-owned business, was passed from original owner Leo Ambrogi to his son John Ambrogi, the current owner. It was news to John when he learned that if GW has its way, an academic center would be built where the store sits at 2133 G St.
While John Ambrogi said he was not surprised GW had included the site of his property in the newly proposed Campus Plan, he said GW officials have not contacted him about buying the property. He would not say whether he’d be interested in selling.
“I’d like to reserve that information,” he said in an interview this week.
Sherry Rutherford, GW’s managing director of Real Estate Planning and Development, said the plan was drawn up using the assumption that GW can purchase those two properties over time. She said the University has not yet begun negotiating with the properties’ owners about selling.
“We’re saying this is what we would do with these sites if we acquire them,” Rutherford said.
The fraternity house, at 2020 G St., is another site GW would like to redevelop for academic use. It is owned by a private housing corporation composed of Delta Tau Delta alumni and is currently being leased to Lambda Chi Alpha, said GW junior Noah Lentz, Lambda Chi Alpha’s property manager.
The GW chapter of Delta Tau Delta was closed in February 2004 due to allegations of hazing, and it is permitted to petition to return in 2007, two years before the lease is up on the alumni-owned townhouse.
Lentz said he does not think the Delta Tau Delta alumni would agree to sell the property to the University. The Delta Tau Delta alumni could not be reached for comment.
– Kaitlyn Jahrling