SF tennis community outraged over real estate developer's revision plan to not rebuild sports club

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Players in the San Francisco tennis community are upset after learning that a developer, who had initially agreed on a plan to build a tennis club within a new building, revised the plan and left out the tennis club.

Now those previously involved with the San Francisco Tennis Club are making a last ditch effort for help from the City of San Francisco at a site near 5th and Brannon.

"I feel like I have personally been double crossed. I think the question here is, 'Is San Francisco for sale to the highest bidder'?," said Seth Socolow, who heads the nonprofit group San Franciscans for Sports and Recreation.

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Socolow says the Bay Club sold their former tennis property at 88 Bluxome in 2019 to the Alexandria Real Estate Equities group which presented their plans to the city's planning board at the time. A new tennis club was listed as their number one "Planning Principle." A site that would also have office space, affordable housing, and retail was then approved.

But a 2021 revision of the plan eliminated the tennis club. According to recent documents, a zoning administrator said the elimination was not a significant one and while there was an agreement between the nonprofit and the owner, a tennis club at this new location was "not a planning code requirement."

Youth Tennis Advantage Executive Director Mike Skinner says this move will negatively impact 350 kids from underserved communities who play tennis in San Francisco and currently play on outdoor courts and indoor courts at a temporary facility near Cow Palace.

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"San Francisco Tennis Club has been very generous to us over the years in giving us court time for our kids to practice to workout in their clinics for free. One of our students right now just got on Wednesday accepted to Princeton," says Skinner.

Socolow's group is appealing to the San Francisco Board of Appeals Wednesday. He says that greats like Serena Williams and even Arthur Ashe were involved at the last tennis site. He hopes the board will see the real issue here.

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"The loss of this recreation epicenter and again we're talking about over 134 thousand square feet of indoor recreation space, that's roughly three acres," says Socolow

We did reach out to those with the Alexandria Real Estate Equities company, but have not yet received a response.

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