Monday, November 19, 2012

Ward 7 Gets a $10 Million Amenity in New Tennis Center

Image: courtesy Clark Nexsen
A multi-million dollar tennis and education center opened Saturday off of East Capitol Street in DC's Ward 7.  The complex adds a big amenity to an area of the District with one of the city's highest percentage of vacant or abandoned space, but that has lately seen new developments.

The Washington Nationals in July began work on a youth baseball academy very nearby at Fort Dupont Park.  In 2008, developers Donatelli and Blue Skye were selected to develop a city-owned lot at the nearby, Ward 7 hub of Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road, NE.  Work on the $65 million mixed-use retail and residential project started this summer.

New Courts at Stoddert Pl SE. Photo courtesy WTEF
These developments mean that land in Ward 7, which, according to the Office of Planning, has 32 percent vacant or abandoned space compared to Ward 1's six percent, is seeing more construction.

The force behind the $10 million project is the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation (WTEF), an organization that specializes in a unique combination of tennis training and tutoring to serve school-aged youth from East DC who might not otherwise get tennis lessons or school help. Clark Nexsen is the architect on the project.

The new center sits on 7.5 acres rented under a 40-year lease with the District Department of Parks and Recreation.  It is located at the Benning Stoddert Recreation Center at 200 Stoddert Place SE,  and includes nine outdoor tennis courts.  The 64,800 s.f. of indoor space includes six indoor courts, a community room, four classrooms, offices, and a 50-seat computer training room.   The site, which already had a field, a playground, and some tennis and basketball courts, also got enhancements, including lighting and better paths.

Image: courtesy Clark Nexsen
"It is envisioned as an additional community resource," Frank Kaye, architect with Clark Nexsen, told DCMud.  He said designs for the facility considered how to save trees, improve existing spaces, and how to best facilitate overall project goals of tennis training and mentoring.  Designers met with community leaders, as well as with the United States Tennis Association to make sure the facilities met their guidelines.

Eleni Rossides, director of WTEF, said fundraising for the center began during the recession, but that donors pulled through to raise almost all of the money for the project privately. 

Photo courtesy WTEF
In addition to work at 23 schools, WTEF had, until now, worked out of a facility on K Street NW and bused kids there from east DC.   With the new facility, students in WTEF's fee-free programs will be able to get tennis training and tutoring in their own neighborhood. Rossides said the center will be open to programming for adults and seniors, organizational collaborations, and someday maybe advisory neighborhood commission (ANC) meetings.

"For us, we really looked at this as a family community center and we really hope that it can help to transform this community," Rossides said.

Washington D.C. real estate development news


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