Next stop, courtside

Tennis club at Grand Central already drawing real estate crowd

Vanderbilt Tennis Club
A rendering of the Vanderbilt Tennis Club
Enter on the west side of 42nd Street and walk down the ramp, past the information booth and food court. Walk up a short flight of stairs to the balcony housing Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse, and look for a slightly secluded elevator. Go three floors up and you’ll find a surprising sight: tennis courts under construction.

Several real estate bigwigs, hedge funds and lawyers have already reserved court space at the newly formed Vanderbilt Tennis Club, slated to open next fall at Grand Central Terminal.

Indeed, according to Tony Scolnick, president of the Vanderbilt Tennis Club, close to a dozen parties have made reservations since the club started accepting bookings last month. So far, they’ve filled between 5 and 10 percent of the club’s available slots.

Scolnick declined to provide names on which real estate and business executives have already signed on, but said both individuals and companies have booked reservations for the same time each week, either for a full year or a large portion of the year.

The $20 million project — encompassing close to 11,000 square feet on the station’s fourth and fifth floors — will include one full-size court, plus an upper level with practice alleys and “peewee” courts.

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While Grand Central has had tucked-away tennis courts on the third floor since the 1960s, the previous facility, which was leased by Donald Trump, closed in May 2009. In the 1960s, the space was also home to an indoor ski slope and a CBS television studio.

Last month, The Real Deal got a sneak peak inside, where F.J. Sciame Construction Co. is overseeing the renovation. The firm has already disassembled and restored parts of the ornamental steel windows, which are adorned with four different patterns of rosettes.

“They were designed to bring fresh air and light into the building,” said Ryan Murphy, a project manager for Sciame.

Scolnick said reservations are only for the main court, and rates are $100 to $210 per hour, depending on the time, or $3,800 to $7,980 for the 38-week season. By comparison, the Midtown Tennis Club, at 341 Eighth Avenue, charges between $75 to $150 per hour, or $2,400 to $4,800 for a 32-week season.

The Vanderbilt club will operate under a 10-year lease with the MTA. The club will initially pay $225,000 a year, but the rent will eventually rise to $350,000.