The 45-year-old Newport Beach, Calif. club received a notice that set off fears among members that it would have to close at the end of August. But talks with Fluter Properties, which owns part of the land where the club operates, then ensued to arrange a renewal of the club’s lease. The club includes 16 lighted courts, a pro shop and a clubhouse at the northeast corner of a Hyatt Regency resort.
Palisades Tennis Club in Newport Beach, Calif. appears to be getting a reprieve after initial fears that one of its landlords would not extend its long-term ground lease, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The potential closure threatened a club with a 45-year history that includes a tie to one of Newport’s most celebrated residents, John Wayne, the Times reported. It’s also the home venue of Newport’s lone professional sports franchise—the Orange County Breakers tennis team—and about 500 members.
But club officials calmed and cheered anxious members who packed the first-floor lounge of the clubhouse August 20 for an update about a week after they launched a grassroots appeal to landlord Russ Fluter of Newport’s Fluter Properties, the Times reported. Eric Davidson, the Breakers’ owner and a leading club member, credited members’ letters and phone calls with changing Fluter’s mind.
“He has very graciously changed his position … and decided that he wants to make a deal,” Davidson said.
Fluter said in an e-mail August 21 night that “Fluter Properties is in the process of exploring options to lease the property and intends on maintaining it for recreational use,” the Times reported
Davidson, who also co-owns the eight-team World TeamTennis league and has a background in real estate development and investment, is handling lease negotiations, the Times reported. He said talks, though in their early stages, are positive and that the club should have at least two or three years of continued operation as its land owners plot their courses.
The club includes 16 lighted courts, a pro shop and a clubhouse at the northeast corner of the Hyatt Regency resort, the Times reported. Its multi-colored center court is home to the Breakers, who recently wrapped up their three-week season that serves as a tune-up for the U.S. Open.
The club operates under two separate leases, the Times reported. The hotel’s owner, a private equity real estate firm based in Los Angeles, owns the land under the parking lot and the front six courts. Fluter owns the land under the rest.
According to an August 14 notice on club letterhead from Davidson and longtime club owner Ken Stuart, Fluter informed the club that it had to vacate its headquarters on August 31, the Times reported.
Members rallied with letters and calls about the club’s social and recreational value. In addition to Breakers matches, it hosts member and benefit tournaments, youth camps and socializing at its pub, the Times reported. Fluter said Fluter Properties did not issue a notice to vacate but rather a notice that the lease was set to expire August 31 and had not been renewed.
Davidson said the Hyatt owner, Woodridge Capital Partners—which bought the Hyatt property and its portion of the Palisades land last year for $98 million—hasn’t shared its plans for the Back Bay-adjacent resort but has given verbal assurance that the tennis club is safe, the Times reported.
Davidson said the club has lost about 100 members in the past year and a half due to the uncertainty about its future, the Times reported. Eight bailed in the past week, Stuart added.
Davidson said the more robust the club is as he negotiates with the landlords, the better his position, the Times reported.
Palisades is one of three private tennis clubs in town, along with the Newport Beach Tennis Club and the Tennis Club at the Newport Beach Country Club, the Times reported. The city recreation department maintains 15 public courts spread among a half-dozen parks.
For Palisades member and retired fashion writer Laurie Drake, the club is a source of many friendships and is a reasonably priced amenity—a $4,000 initiation fee when she joined five years ago and $200 monthly, much less than the clubs where she previously lived in L.A.’s Westside, the Times reported.