Application to demolish SF’s last indoor tennis facility withdrawn

The Bay Club at 645 5th St. houses 12 indoor and 12 rooftop courts. As of now, the club plans to remain open through July 2017. (Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner)

Plans to demolish San Francisco’s only remaining indoor tennis facilities to make way for new office space and exercise facilities appear to have been put on hold.

Developers on Tuesday withdrew a preliminary project assessment application that was submitted Sept. 15 with the Planning Department for the site at 645 5th St., department spokeswoman Gina Simi confirmed. Planners expect an application will be resubmitted by the end of the year.

In addition to office space, a fitness club, retail space and underground parking were proposed for the site. The Bay Club, which owns the property, wrote in a Sept. 21 letter to its members that the club would remain operational at least through July 2017.

The Bay Club is currently among a handful of bidders vying for use of the Palace of Fine Arts where the Exploratorium operated until 2013 before moving to the Embarcadero.

Earlier this month, supporters of the tennis club – which has 12 indoor courts and 12 rooftop courts – formed a nonprofit, with the backing of former Mayor Art Agnos, to urge developers to include additional tennis courts in its construction plans.

Harris Schwartz, a member of the club for four years, said members are not opposed to adding office and retail space, but want to preserve the two dozen tennis courts that are used daily by kids, adults and senior citizens.

“I know there’s been a lot of comments about the wealthy members who use it as a social club,” Schwartz said. “There’s…a lot of members that are older, and they rely on that meeting place to get together with other members. There’s some people that come as far as Walnut Creek and are there every day.”

Schwartz said he spoke with the project developers, Alexandria Real Estate, Wednesday morning and was told they are taking into consideration the request of club members to include more tennis courts.

“It’s definitely promising,” Schwartz said of the application’s withdrawal. He added, “As a group we’re certainly not going to back down or stop organizing.”

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