Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Historic Queens Tennis Stadium that Hosted U.S. Open at Risk of Being Gutted for Condos by Nicholas Hirshon - NY Daily News

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West Side Tennis club will vote on the $9-million sale of the historic Queens tennis stadium. Hagen for News
A storied tennis stadium in Queens that long hosted the U.S. Open would be gutted for condos and a swimming pool under plans obtained by the Daily News.

The controversial proposal by developer Cord Meyer would put five floors of about 75 units and a pool at the historic West Side Stadium in Forest Hills Gardens.

Members of the West Side Tennis Club - which owns the crumbling stadium - are slated to vote Sept. 23 on the 2.5-acre, $9-million sale that would destroy some of the world's most iconic courts.

Renderings call for incorporating the stadium's distinctive arches into the facade of the new structure. But they do not clearly show if the concrete eagles and shields that line the venue would remain.

The rest of the club's 14-acre property would be untouched.

Messages left for the club president, Kenneth Parker, were not returned. Cord Meyer spokeswoman Judith White declined comment, saying the company wanted to first unveil the proposal to club members Tuesday night.
Concerns about preserving the 15,000-seat stadium - which was home to the U.S. Open from 1923 to 1977, but has been used only sparingly in recent decades - are dividing the club's faithful.

Club leadership postponed the vote, originally slated for next Thursday, to drum up the two-thirds majority needed to pass the plan, multiple sources said.
"There's a substantial number of people that are going to be voting no," said a voting member, who vowed to reject the project.

Club member Christine Schott said she wants to save the courts that hosted tennis greats such as Chris Evert and Billie Jean King, as well as concerts by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

"People like myself who are traditionalists are horrified," Schott said. "I'd like to see the stadium preserved and used in a way that pays homage."
Schott said she has contacted the New York Philharmonic and the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum about reusing the horseshoe-shaped edifice.
Philharmonic spokesman Eric Latzky would say only that he was "not aware" of plans to perform at the club. The Hall of Fame declined comment.

Members are also pushing the nearby Kew-Forest School to relocate to the club grounds and use the stadium as a tennis academy.

School leaders did not return messages seeking comment.

Meanwhile, the city is mulling a landmarking request to prevent major alterations or demolition.