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Factory swings again with tennis court plans

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"It's going to be a first-class facility. There will be views into the Manhattan skyline," said Mike Delprete, partner with NYTennis.net, which starts construction this week on the $4 million Cityview Racquet and Fitness Center at 32-00 Skillman Ave. The 65,000-square-foot private club should open by October, Delprete said. It will feature seven tennis courts under white insulated bubbles, four squash courts, a health club, cafe, pro shop and steam rooms. Membership will cost roughly $2,000 a year with court fees and he expects to accommodate 500 to 700 members. A stone's throw from the No. 7 train tracks, the facility will have large glass windows overlooking the aqua-blue CitiCorp skyscraper and United Nations building. "This is perfect. It's minutes from Manhattan. It's right off the 59th Street Bridge," said Mark Kraus, general manager of NYTennis.net.The company has five tennis operations in the city. In Queens, it runs Bay Terrace Tennis Center in Bayside and Cunningham Tennis Center in Fresh Meadows. The other three are in Manhattan and the Bronx. Long Island City has had a rocky relationship with tennis clubs. The 19-court East River Tennis Club on Vernon Boulevard folded two years ago. Long Island City Tennis, which operated on the third floor of the Schwartz Chemical Co. building on Second Street, has been closed for years.NYTennis's main competitor will be the 30-year-old Tennisport along the East River also on Second Street. But that operation's future is unclear. It was threatened for closure under eminent domain in 2003 by the sprawling $2.3 billion Queens West development. Debra Wetzel, spokeswoman for the state Economic Development Corp., the organization behind Queens West, said Tennisport escaped the ax under an occupancy agreement. It will stay open for at least two more years, she said, but may be in danger depending on the outcome of the city's 2012 Olympic bid. The sprawling Olympic Village is planned just blocks away. "Right now there is a shrinkage of tennis courts in the city," Delprete said. "We feel there is a tremendous need for (another)."Community leaders praised the idea of a new club in the neighborhood, which has been touted as the future of Queens in recent years as property values soar and developers plan a slew of new luxury housing complexes on the waterfront. "We could always use more recreation facilities in the area," said Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley. "(Tennis clubs) bring people from Manhattan to Long Island City. So we always view that as a positive." Dan Miner, of the Long Island City Business Development Corp., said thousands of workers commute to the neighborhood every day for work. "Some of them are going to want to play tennis or squash ... whether on their lunch hour or after work," Miner said. "This is a great addition to someone's life." Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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