Swanky San Francisco tennis club to become homeless shelter during coronavirus outbreak

Bay Club San Francisco Tennis, the swanky 24-court tennis facility in San Francisco’s South of Market, will become a temporary homeless shelter aimed at getting people off the street during the coronavirus pandemic, a committee of club members said Monday.

The club, which has 12 indoor courts and another 12 rooftop courts at Fifth and Brannan streets, is slated to be demolished to make way for a new mixed-use development that will include a new headquarters for Pinterest. The property is owned by Alexandria Real Estate Equities and TMG Partners.

In addition to the Pinterest offices, the redevelopment approved for the site will include a public swimming pool and about 100 units of affordable housing. It will also have a new underground private tennis club. It is unclear whether the temporary homeless shelter will delay the start of construction.

In a statement the Bay Club spokesman Alex Tourk said the deal has not been finalized, but that “they have been in constructive dialogue with city officials on ways the city can best utilize the facilities including the potential of creating temporary shelter space.”

In a letter sent Monday to tennis club members, a committee of Bay Club members said the property owners “had been informed” over the weekend that “Mayor Breed had the power to commandeer the building under the Mayor’s Emergency Powers.”

“Rather than having the city seize the building, the (property owner) negotiated with city officials and agreed to provide the building to the city for use as a homeless shelter, beginning on April 1,” stated the letter.

The letter does not specify whether the notion that the city could take over the club came from a city official or was legal advice from the developer’s own lawyers. Jeff Cretan, a spokesman for Mayor London Breed, said the city did not threaten to take over the club. “We have amicable conversations about how to respond to the crisis,” he said.

On Friday, Mary Ellen Carroll, executive director of the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management, said that the city doesn’t expect to use eminent domain to take over private properties.

“We are having a lot of success working through our partnerships with the private sector, getting hotel rooms and that sort of thing,” she said. “From my perspective, we’re getting what we need.”

The Bay Club told members that “there is currently insufficient space for the homeless who are already in shelters to meet social distance requirements.”

“The additional space provided by the San Francisco Tennis Club will make it possible to meet social distance requirements for the homeless already living in shelters,” the club stated.

Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the South of Market area, said he “applauded the tennis club for stepping up and demonstrating that we all have to be in this together.”

“We are trying to use every possible facility that is available, whether public or private, to get people inside,” said Haney. “It’s just completely reckless and dangerous to leave thousands of people on our streets right now.”

The redevelopment of the tennis club is part of the Central SoMa rezoning the city passed last year. The plan was meant to generate millions of square feet of office space and thousands of housing units near the Central Subway, which is scheduled to open next year. Bay Club is planning to build a temporary tennis facility on Geneva Avenue, near the Cow Palace.

Correction: An earlier version of this story mischaracterized the source of the letter to club members. It was a committee of Bay Club members. That version also should have included comment from a Bay Club spokesman.

J.K. Dineen is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: jdineen@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @sfjkdineen

Article source: https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Swanky-San-Francisco-tennis-club-to-become-15167659.php

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