Courting young tenants with tennis

<span style="font-style: italic;">Forget pools, tennis courts are the new must-have luxury amenity</span>

When the U.S. Open kicks off at the end of this month, hundreds of thousands of fans will flock to Flushing Meadows to watch the world’s tennis greats battle it out.

But while New York has long been home to the Grand Slam tournament, it is not the most hospitable place for tennis aficionados: Because of the high cost of land, tennis courts are few and far between. In addition, several high-profile courts, such as Long Island City’s Tennisport and the facilities above Grand Central Station, are scheduled to close soon.

Although there are still courts in private clubs and public parks, the building boom of the past five years that resulted in the construction of luxury amenities — from pools to waterfalls — rarely involved the erection of tennis facilities.

A rare exception is the Sessanta, a 301-unit, two-tower rental complex on West 60th Street that will have a regulation-sized tennis court in its courtyard. The complex, which residents started moving into at the beginning of June, is scheduled to open the tennis court by the end of this month, according to Sha Dinour, the president of Triumph Property Group, which heads up the Sessanta’s leasing office. Rents at the building start at $1,800 for studios and go up to $5,500 for three-bedrooms.

Dinour says the court has been a lure for some of the property’s prospective tenants and that the Sessanta’s target demographic is young professionals and young families.

Adam Disick, another Triumph principal, says the Sessanta’s developer, Algin Management, decided to put in the tennis court partially because the parcel the complex was built on “had a large swath of outdoor space” that needed to be part of the development under zoning regulations in order for the towers to be built high.

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Disick said that since courts are such a rarity in residential buildings, it helps the Sessanta stand out from other projects laden with luxury trappings.

Another recent West Side rental, Larry Silverstein’s One River Place, which opened in 2000, also has tennis courts.

Dan Robinson, the project director for the Towers at Water’s Edge in Bayside, Queens —an 832-unit co-op in which his firm, MJH Birchwood, owns 228 sponsor residences — says the Towers’ five tennis courts, which were recently resurfaced, are increasingly a big draw for younger buyers.

“There’s a little generational gap with the tennis courts … for people in their late 30s, 40s and 50s, tennis is not as popular,” says Robinson. “What we’re finding is our younger buyers moving from urban areas who want a relaxed lifestyle have a growing interest in tennis courts as an amenity.”

While tennis courts in outer-borough buildings are far from the norm, they are even more unusual in Manhattan. Brokers say there are fewer than 20 buildings in Manhattan with courts, and almost none are in new developments.

Older buildings that have tennis courts include co-ops such as 1725 York Avenue and 435 East 52nd Street. A smattering of other buildings such as Sutton Manor on East 56th Street, meanwhile, allow residents access to on-site private tennis clubs.

Use of tennis courts is not free at most buildings that have them. At the Sessanta, for example, booking the court for an hour costs $40, and at the Towers at Water’s Edge, residents pay a $200 yearly fee for access.