Forest Hills Courts Could Be Sold
By ROSS BARKAN
|The potential land deal would not impact the vacant Forest Hills Tennis Stadium.
Tribune Photo by Ross Barkan
Club leaders are seriously considering a deal to sell off land at the historic West Side Tennis Club for $17 million, leaving the decaying Forest Hills Tennis Stadium alone.
The potential sale of the land, which includes several of the club's five clay courts, could lead to the development of new apartments, a source close to the deal told the Queens Tribune. Five clay courts lie on the club's property and the deal may not include a sale of all five. The developer, who WSTC General Manager Mauro Piccininni declined to identify, would be able to build low-rise attached houses and small multifamily apartment houses, which City zoning permits.
Two Forest Hills-based developers have been mentioned as potential buyers, though WSTC would not confirm the names of the companies.
Any deal agreed upon by the developer and WSTC's Stadium Committee would be subject to two thirds approval by voting-eligible members. The Forest Hills Gardens Corporation would have to rubberstamp the deal as well.
Club members have rejected proposals by developers Cord Meyer and Stadium Arts Alliance, though this latest proposal would leave the legendary Forest Hills Tennis Stadium untouched. Guarded by rusty chain-link fences, the 14,000-seat stadium hosted the U.S. Open until 1978, when the event outgrew its Forest Hills home and shifted to Flushing Meadows. Major musical acts like the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel also performed there. Dating back to 1892, WSTC relocated to Forest Hills in 1913 and the stadium was built in 1923.
Last year, the Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected an application to make the stadium a landmark, citing water damage, spalling on its arches and crumbling concrete as reasons for its ineligibility. Were this sale to be approved, the fate of the stadium would still remain in limbo.
"Any proposal that does not include the restoration and preservation and mixed use for Forest Hills Stadium, we do not support," said Michael Perlman, president of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council.
The council spearheaded the failed efforts to landmark the tennis stadium, though Perlman still insists advocates should be at least entitled to a public hearing. Bordering Forest Hills Gardens, a private community of Tudor-style homes, WSTC would be selling parcels of at least 7,200 square feet, the size of an average tennis court. Zoned R3-2, a zoning district used extensively outside of Manhattan, the club's land gives the potential developer some flexibility. Maximum heights of any buildings would be 125 feet, allowing for low-lying multifamily apartment houses that could remain within the context of the community. The Board of Standards and Appeals would need to approve any structures that violate the zoning.
"While the future of the West Side Tennis Stadium remains in question," said Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), "I strongly hope that future proposals take into account the community at large and utilize the space in a way that is to the beneficial to the entire neighborhood."
Reach Reporter Ross Barkan at email@example.com or (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127.