“Heart of Community?” Not Exactly
When it comes to development vs. preservation . . . I’m strictly an agnostic (or maybe the term should be “ad hoc-ist,” given that I favor a case-by-case analysis).
So, when developers want to replace a decrepit, generic-looking hardware store at 26th & Lyndale with something newer and more functional, I’d say “sure, why not?”
However, when developers want to scrape a unique and historic building and replace it with something cheap, the answer should be “no.”
The Fate of the West Side Tennis Club
Those trade-off’s came to mind as I read yesterday’s Wall Street Journal piece on the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills (pictured closer to its hey day a century ago, in the photo above — and less than one mile from where I’m spending the week).
In a nutshell, a showdown is brewing between a developer who wants to buy the Club and rejuvenate it, vs. locals who oppose new development.
As a member of the local preservation community put it:
“Losing the club would be the equivalent of ripping the heart out of Forest Hills.”
Frozen in Time
The foregoing sentiment would be right except for one, small fact: that ‘heart’ stopped beating in the late ’70’s, when the U.S. (Tennis) Open left for nearby Flushing Meadow.
Ever since, the Club has basically been sitting idle and decaying, in its very prime spot.
It’s hard to believe that that constitutes the “highest and best use” of the space — another time-tested criterion for weighing development proposals.