Tennis Club changes stadium sale process

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The West Side Tennis Club is taking a more transparent approach in its second attempt to sell the land currently occupied by its historic stadium, after a more secretive process last year incensed some members.

The club announced a request for proposals Aug. 1, and hosted a walk-through of the property Aug. 15, which was attended by about a dozen people, including architects and real estate firms, according to Vincent Riso of Briarwood Organization, a Bayside-based developer.

“The location is an area to die for,” he said after attending the walk-through and question-and-answer session by the club. “We’d have to say we’re interested in it.”

The club did not stipulate that the stadium needed to be maintained in the development proposals, Riso said. The ideas, which are completely up to the architects and firms, are due at the end of October.

Representatives from the West Side Tennis Club declined to comment.

Last year, the club members were shown only one proposal by Queens developer Cord Meyer, based in Forest Hills. This year, according to a source familiar with the proceedings, the club has had many interested parties get in touch and has kept club members abreast of the proceedings. In fact, the club has had so many options to choose from it has had to weed out some unqualified applicants. Some of them lacked adequate funding, others lacked the experience to take on such a large project.

Because of the influx of options and transparency, the process is much more open that last time around, the source said.

Last year, Cord Meyer put out a bid of about $10 million to buy the property and build condos while retaining the stadium facade.

But according to Anthony Colletti, chief operating officer for Cord Meyer, that proposal was rejected by a vote of the club’s members, many of whom believed that they had been kept in the dark and not given enough options.

“I think the majority of people weren’t against the proposal, but weren’t certain how the management handled the process,” he said.

Members of the club declined to comment.

The October vote was split 123-123, which meant the club did not get the majority needed to proceed with the Cord Meyer proposal.

Since the proposal last year, the board at the club has also completely changed, according to Colletti.

The historic stadium was built in the early 1900s and was the home of the US Open from 1915-77. The stadium also served as a music venue where big-name acts like The Beatles and Bob Dylan performed.

But the stadium has fallen into disrepair, and the city Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected a proposal to landmark the stadium earlier this year citing the dilapidated conditions.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 7:09 pm, September 14, 2011
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