Tennis stadium fate uncertain
Aug 17, 2010 | 3126 views | 2 2 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dear Editor

At the West Side Tennis Club's August 10 meeting, WSTC President Ken Parker, a resident of Brightwaters, opened the meeting by requesting that non-members leave the overcrowded room.  Representatives from Cord Meyer, including President and CEO Sal Panico, COO Anthony Colletti and noted architect Anthony Morali were on hand to present their plans for the site.

They propose building approximately 75 residential units, which they hope to sell for about $1 million- and earn a profit of $25 million! 

Stadium Committee Chairman Jeffrey Tabak- a resident of Manhattan and Nantucket- spoke about the other options he has explored during the past year he has served on the board, including meetings with two large live entertainment companies. He said the companies estimated it would cost approximately $15 million to refurbish the stadium, and that the 14,000 seat stadium was either too small for big name acts or too big for emerging artists. 

Tabak also claimed to have met with eight to ten parties brought by a commercial broker his committee had contracted, but that no serious bids were presented, possibly due to a lack of financing in this economy and the limited size of the plot. 

Additionally, Tabak mentioned meeting with a local educational institution- which we know to be the Kew-Forest School- which is interested in exploring the possibility of developing a tennis academy in conjunction with the school, but he felt it would take too long.  A financial report given by the club’s treasurer Rosemary Cosentino-who lives in Manhasset- suggested the club has two alternatives: raising dues or selling the stadium.  

It will be interesting to see what the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation (FHGC) thinks of Cord Meyer’s architectural plans.   Although the tennis club's board of governors may be made up of some very bright, hard working people, few of them actually live in Forest Hills Gardens, or seem to appreciate the power FHGC has to turn something like this down. So we shall see.

From the Forest Hills Gardens Blog.

For more information and updates, visit foresthillsgardensblog.com
Comments
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anonymous
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October 03, 2010
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Joanne Gibson
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August 19, 2010
Dear Editor: With reference to the Forest Hills Gardens Blog entry dated August 11, 2010 (www.foresthillsgardensblog.com),and reprinted in the Queens Ledger dated August 19, 2010, I’m not certain which is more astounding: the factual inaccuracies in the blog or the inference that only WSTC members who live in Forest Hills Gardens should have a voice regarding the future of the West Side Tennis Club; those WSTC members who are non-residents of FHG should simply pay their club dues and not be heard? What an extraordinary example of the myopic view of the issue at hand -- a view that, unfortunately, will not pay the bills!

The West Side Tennis Club (not the Forest Hills Gardens Tennis Club) is one that is enjoyed and supported both financially and with volunteers from a diverse community, something that should evoke pride and not the disdain inferred in the blog.

The Board's presentation on August 10, 2010, informed all who were present of the dire financial realities that members face: membership has flat-lined, increased fixed operating costs and future capital expenses will lead to further deficit; there is diminished or no capacity for capital improvements of decaying infrastructure, including the stadium that is crumbling before our eyes.

The issue at hand is whether to accept an injection of capital that will allow the Club to take control of its own destiny. With proper planning it may once more become attractive to new members. In its current financial state, potential new members would rather join elsewhere else than face the possibility of future assessments to buoy the finances of a club where many of its facilities are simply second rate. The romanticized vision of past glories and faded history of a single tennis court surrounded by seats that are mostly condemned for use is not really an enticement!

From what was presented at the members' meeting, the developer's offer is extraordinary for many reasons: their offer to purchase is all-cash and will free the club from having to find other ways to climb out of debt; the proposed architectural design maintains the structure of the existing stadium in a way that is beautiful, environmentally sustainable, and historically significant; the ‘clam shell’ (a roof structure that opens/closes) over five clay courts is an added feature that melds with the landscape and provides options for extended play; and, the amount of space claimed for the project is minimal -- based on numbers stated by the developer at the meeting, current hard and soft construction costs, purchase price, and an estimate of revenue from sales, the profit margin would be less than half the $25M that was erroneously declared in the blog.

And, finally, the developer stated more than once during their presentation that they are willing to work with the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation to allay any concerns and to ensure that the new structure conforms to specific FHGC building requirements; judging by the welcome presence of FHGC President, Mitch Cohen, it seems that the FHGC may be more open to the developer's proposal and aligned with the goals of the WSTC Board and many of its members than the blogger would like to have one believe.