San Francisco Tennis Club

Nine years ago, Pulte Homes placed the half-block sized San Francisco Tennis Club at Fifth and Townsend under contract with plans to bulldoze the club and build over 500 condos on the Central SoMa parcel which is currently zoned for development up to 65-feet, or roughly six stories, in height.

With the economy turning and club members having organized, Pulte’s plans were withdrawn in 2008 and members of Save Our San Francisco Tennis Club celebrated as Western Athletic Clubs, now Bay Club, took over the tennis club with plans to preserve and expand the facility.

Last week, Bay Club was sold to York Capital Management and San Francisco-based JMA Ventures, a real estate development company.

While plans for the Bay Club’s clubs have yet to be announced, we’d be willing to bet that plans for developing the 645 5th Street site were central to the acquisition, especially in light of the fact that San Francisco’s pending Central SoMa Plan could up-zone the Tennis Club site for development up to 200-feet in height.

As always, we’ll keep you posted and plugged-in.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Frank C.

    Just unbelievable that 6 stories is the max here. I walk by here every day, there is no low-rise residential fabric anywhere, no views to block. Absolutely no defense for the zoning here, even if you’re one of those people who want SF to turn into an American Venice.

  2. Posted by Joseph A

    its going to get up-zoned as will the projects being proposed along Townsend one block away

  3. Posted by noemom

    Views are never protected, public or private…although public ones are suppose to be. But that all went out the “window” (no pun intended) when those high rises started going up that block the public view of the Bay Bridge from Dolores Park.

    Additionally, it would be nice to have an accurate count of all the new apartments that have become available since it was discovered we had a housing crisis and all those that are now pending, getting ready to open, those that are in the pipeline and those that may become in the pipeline.

    • Posted by norcal

      I find it funny people defending blocking manmade structures because they block the views they want protected of other manmade structures.

      • Posted by Patrick

        Manmade structures at a distance are preferable to manmade structures up close.

        • Posted by norcal

          Read the original complaint, and then think about what you just said.

    • Posted by seriously

      well now you’ll get the view of the new skyline of SF in the 21st century. all those new towers and the Transbay tower are going to be really impressive from Dolores.

  4. Posted by norcal

    6 stories by a train station and 60 stories by a freeway. Great planning SF!

    • Posted by Brad

      Unless you commute exclusively to the South Bay, the “60 stories by [the] freeway” are much closer to a diverse array of public transit (and don’t forget that CalTrain will eventually terminate at the Transbay Tower).

      • Posted by norcal

        One Rincon is no less than 7 blocks from BART, 5 blocks from MUNI, and 3 blocks from the proposed Transbay bus station. Meanwhile, SF builds 6 story buildings on top of BART, MUNI Metro, and Caltrain stations.

        • Posted by BobN

          I think by “diverse”, he meant skateboard and boxcars. Downhill-hill only transit…

  5. Posted by jim

    “Views are never protected, public or private…although public ones are suppose to be.” Views are not protected, period. There is nothing in the Planning Code, or any other SF code, protecting views anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

  6. Posted by Sierrajeff

    I figured all of that would be the initial commentary here… people complaining that 6 stories isn’t enough, when the block across Brannan (and the block to the west of it) are 1- or 2-story industrial and parking lots.

  7. Posted by jamesjr

    Higher is better for this area. 65 feet? It should be 165.

    • Posted by seriously

      hell, it should be 650′. we’re supposed to be in a city.

  8. Posted by around1905

    jim,

    From the San Francisco Residential Design Guidelines:

    ‘The Urban Design Element of the General Plan calls for the protection of major public views in the City, with particular attention to those of open space and water. Protect major views of the City as seen from public spaces such as streets and parks by adjusting the massing of proposed development projects to reduce or eliminate adverse impacts on public view sheds. The General Plan, Planning Code and these Guidelines do not provide for protecting views from private property.’

  9. Posted by Sierrajeff

    Good lord people calm down. If nothing else, at least there will presumably be ground floor retail, which will add to the streetscape – the tennis club is a block-long desert of walls and emergency exit doors.

    And 6 floors is better than pretty much everything within a couple blocks in any direction (until you get to the Avalon fraternities, er, towers between King and Townsend).

    Frankly I’d have thought the concern here would be the loss of recreational facilities – even if they are private, they’re nevertheless a couple dozen tennis courts that’ll be lost (there are some inside, as well as on the roof). Apartments alone (whether 6 stories or 60) do not a city make.

    • Posted by SFJohn

      SierraJeff you know SS is a veritable viper’s nest of negative comments, armchair “architecture critics”, critics in general (just for the fun of playing Devil’s advocate I suppose)….

      • Posted by anon

        Lately SS has become a forum primarily for property developers and speculators. Every other brilliant comment is ‘make it 200 stories – every parcel in SF must contain a Burj Khalifa!”

        As if doubling the number of residents and communters would not make for truly miserable conditions.

        • Posted by Fishchum

          Well, congrats on over-exaggerating the points of view on here. No one is advocating for the Burj Khalifa on every parcel – and I’d wager very few who post here are all primarily developers and speculators.

          Have you ever thought that maybe you just may be in the minority with regards to development here in SF?

        • Posted by Name

          Drama queen much?

        • Posted by Snobby McGoogle

          How dare you insult this collection of brilliant minds… well, you know how brilliance is, it’s so often misunderstood. We need to protect their brilliance and insight, rather than driving them off of the site and out of the city simply because they can’t afford socialization classes. We need to preserve the flavor…

          • Posted by Arch

            @Futurist, why are you not back here for the AIA convention in Chicago? The tours to Frank Lloyd Wright / Prairie /arts and crafts neighborhoods are worth the trip alone.

      • Posted by Futurist

        Yea. I agree. more like a rat’s nest of constant negativity: too short, too tall, too ugly, too generic, and on and on.

        The armchair architecture “critics” are always lurking with their take on design. As a licensed architect, as you all have known for years, I find their comments 99.9% of the time just laughable.

    • Posted by anon

      So upzone the parcel to unlimited height but force the developer to build a base with 24 tennis courts. Problem solved.

    • Posted by Fogcity

      I completely agree. It would be disastrous to lose another great recreation space, many of which are dwindling by the day. Why would building another Beacon improve our city? Just would be another reason for me to avoid Soma altogether.

  10. Posted by Lance

    There are 24 tennis courts there (12 inside/12 outside), so it is a substantial loss of recreation space. BTW, I’m not saying that they shouldn’t build redevelop it, but it will cause me to rethink my membership to WAC….that’s for sure. I spend alot of time and money at that place.

    • Posted by NoeMom

      For what it’s worth the club’s official word is that it isn’t happening. I guess we’ll see …

      • Posted by Michael

        The club/members will be the last to know. Goal of the new owners will be to minimize the loss of membership and employees by not disclosing any plans until absolutely necessary or required.

      • Posted by anon

        Again though, this is an easy fix. Eliminate the height limit on the parcel but in exchange require 24 courts to be built in the lower levels. Everyone wins.

        • Posted by Lance

          Closes the club for a few years, but I agree. Of course, it won’t be as simple as that. This is San Francisco afterall.

    • Posted by Bev

      I’m a member at the club and am very disappointed that developers are coming in to take over our space.

      What’s wrong with some recreational space in the City? Yes, it’s private, but there are a lot of great people there. All those good people who work there will lose their jobs, too. Very sad.

      • Posted by anon

        What’s wrong with allowing the new site to include tennis courts? Up the height limit to 500′ or more and require tennis courts be built. Everyone wins.

  11. Posted by Keepitup

    Whatever they decide to build, please…..please….please…..please make it look good. Please do not follow in the footsteps of the Beacon or “Towers” on King @ 2nd Ughleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

    BTW….anything built on that site that reaches 200′ or 300′ hundred feet is almost guaranteed to turn Bluxome street into a wind tunnel.

    And correct me if I’m wrong but I do believe Bluxome is considered a secondary street so they may require 40~50′ setbacks for the south side of the building site. Similar to what was required on Folsom between 4th and 5th where the lofts back up to Shipley street.

  12. Posted by Condor49

    God, You Guys Are Pathetic . You have No Idea What You’re letting go.
    Then again, You’re San Francisco, Where Greed is King….

    • Posted by anon

      You’re absolutely correct. It is greedy for rich tennis club owners to want to keep their fancy schmancy club in place of housing for families and kids to live in.

      • Posted by Bras

        That’s a joke. Businesses have a right to be operated by the owners regardless of whether you approve or not. SF is a jungle of overpriced apartments and complexes owned by wealthy foreign investors. How would turning this place into a new apartment building benefit the masses? I play tennis at the club but would have no chance, none whatsoever, of buying a new apartment there. Would price out a good working stiff who pays hard earned money to be healthy and get in some recreation.

  13. Posted by Kathleen and Kozo Kimura

    What happens to those ‘lifetime’ members of the San Francisco Tennis Club? The ‘Sterling’ Members!

    • Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

      I read “lifetime subscription” as meaning that it ends when either your or the institution’s life ends, whichever comes first.

      • Posted by Lance

        Not to be morbid, but alot of those guys are pretty old, so it is a crapshot on which will happen first.

  14. Posted by Bras

    This article is highly speculative, by the way. So far, the new investors have not disclosed any future plans for the club, and capital improvements are still ongoing. Why continue to make capital improvements if the club is going to be dismantled? These are not minor improvements either. Resurfacing the tennis courts takes some major dough.

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