AUC’s Greek campus for sale

As The American University in Cairo (AUC) celebrates its 90th anniversary this year it is selling one of its most precious buildings, the Greek campus.
“The Greek campus is on the market for sale and we could be signing the contract within a month,” said Brian MacDougall, Vice President for Planning and Administration at AUC.
The AUC campus, located in the heart of downtown Cairo, was established in 1919 and grew and developed into a landmark. Acquired in 1964 as part of the expansion plans spearheaded by AUC then-president Thomas A. Bartlett, the AUC Greek campus soon became an integral part of not only the university but its environs.
“The Greek campus is part of the character of this area. Changing or destroying it would result in great deformity,” said Abdallah Shalaby, Chairman of Century 21 Real Estate Company.
After much debate about whether to stay downtown or move to the Fifth Settlement, the AUC board decided years ago to “move to a better and a bigger place which helps AUC maintain its cultural and educational role,” said MacDougall.
Accordingly, the university is selling off a considerable portion of its downtown acquisitions. The first sale seems to be the Greek Campus, which is being sold with the AUC Press building on Mohamed Riyan St., according to AUC sources.
“The main building will be used for continuing education courses, while the Falaki building will be used for all sorts of cultural activities,” said MacDougall.
Rumors abound regarding who plans to buy the Greek campus. The most popular seems to be the one reiterated by the owner of a copy center across the street that billionaire businessman Naguib Sawiris will buy the campus.
For the time being, the area around the university campus is dying out as businesses established to cater to the bustling campus are deprived of their bread and butter.
“Our customers have declined dramatically since AUC has moved a year ago,” said Hossam Ibrahim manager of the downtown branch of Beano’s Café, across the street from the campus.
“Our sales have been cut by 50 per cent this year,” said Ibrahim.
The same story is repeated at other nearby businesses, such as Cilantro, Coasta, Bon Appétit, and even McDonald’s. “We have a great loss and our customers are never the same,” said Magdy Fathi, branch manager at Cilantro.
These shops are now targeting people working in the neighborhood, and trying to increase delivery orders.
“A year ago this place died completely,” said Ihab Salah Eldin, the owner of the Copy Center, located next to the Greek campus. It is where AUC professors used to leave copies of course handouts and syllabi for students to photocopy.
Not only coffee shops and stationeries have suffered from the move. Car attendants working in the neighborhood also report a decline in business. The situation has changed from parking “an average of 100 cars daily to 15 cars daily,” said Fatthallah, a parking attendant.
“We are eight car attendants parking 15 cars in Elsheikh Rihan Street during the whole morning,” said Mohamed Ashraf, another parking attendant.
Despite the losses, local businessmen hope they can keep business alive.
“I hope that selling the campus will bring new business with new customers,” said Fatthallah.
The total area of the Greek campus is 9116 square meters, which includes the library, social science building, the Jameel Center and the School of Continuing Education building.
According to The American University in Cairo 1919 -1987, published by AUC Press, the campus was originally a girl’s school owned by the Greek community. When acquired by AUC in 1964 it “required extensive cleaning and remodeling; sewage that had to be cleared away; bats, owls and snakes had to be removed from unused rooms.”
Today’s buyers will no doubt be taking over a much better kept property.
(source: almasry alyoum)


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