Members of Private Tennis Club Fight to Protect Their Space and the “Spirit of the City”

In an unusual twist on the tech/displacement narrative, more than 200 members of San Francisco’s only indoor tennis club are protesting plans to demolish the site and build a five-story office complex in its place, deeming the proposal another example of tech’s cannibalization of the city.

[jump] “The Tennis Club is the latest manifestation of the fight for the livability of the city against high-tech developers who have City Hall by the throat,” said former mayor Art Agnos, who is campaigning to keep the San Francisco Tennis Club at 5th and Brannan in business.

Here’s the backstory:

As the Chronicle reports, the Bay Club, which owns the tennis facility, is working with developers TMG Partners and Alexandria Real Estate Equities to build a 370,000-square-foot, five-story office complex, a 25,000-square-foot sports club, and four tennis courts. (The current building has 24 courts). The plan will cost $117 million, according to the Business Times.  

“The fight to protect the San Francisco Tennis Club could easily become a symbol of the larger fight to protect the spirit, the substance, the wonderful mosaic of the city,” club member Steve Jamison told the Chronicle.

Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents the district, agrees that demolishing the tennis club and building offices in its place isn’t the best idea.

Club members have started a nonprofit called SOS STC 2.0 to help protect the existing structure. If a deal can’t be reached, they say they’ll go to the ballot for a resolution.

The San Francisco Tennis Club doesn’t make membership rates public; instead, it invites interested applicants to tour the facility. (To quote one Chronicle commenter: “If you have to ask, you can't afford it.”) So what does it say about the state of the city that even tennis aficionados with comparatively high levels of disposable income are blaming tech for destroying their quality of life?


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