While Las Vegas is forcing its homeless to sleep six feet apart in a parking lot while 150,000 hotel rooms sit empty, San Francisco is so far doing slightly better and providing a roof over the heads of some unsheltered people, courtesy of the swanky Bay Club location at Fifth and Brannan.
Plans to house some vulnerable members of the local homeless population in local hotels are still taking shape, but today we're learning that The Bay Club has stepped up, at the city's request, to let its 12 indoor tennis courts become an emergency shelter. The space will allow ample room for social-distancing, which most of the city's existing shelters can not provide.
As the Chronicle reports, the club sent a notice to members over the weekend that the mayor could use her "power to commandeer the building," under her emergency powers, to create the shelter. And instead, the property owners — Alexandria Real Estate Equities and TMG Partners — struck a deal to allow the city's use of the space. A spokesperson for the mayor says this is a mischaracterization, and that the owners and the city had an "amicable" discussion "about how to respond to the crisis."
The tennis court shelter is set to begin taking in occupants on Wednesday, April 1, as the Business Times notes. And in addition to the indoor courts, the facility also has a dozen courts on the roof to provide some outdoor roaming space.
Supervisor Matt Haney, in whose district the Bay Club SF Tennis center sits, praised the club for its cooperation, telling the Chronicle, "We are trying to use every possible facility that is available, whether public or private, to get people inside. It’s just completely reckless and dangerous to leave thousands of people on our streets right now."
The Bay Club SF Tennis facility is slated for demolition in the coming years to become part of a multi-building complex of new office, light industrial, and retail space totaling almost 2.3 million square feet, which will be the new home of Pinterest once it's complete. As TMG Partners explains, construction on one phase of the project at 598 Brannan, called Brannan Square, was supposed to begin later this year. The Pinterest building, which will also be shared by the Bay Club with 12 new underground tennis courts, is at 88 Bluxome Street, and it's unclear where that construction schedule now stands.
Long known as the San Francisco Tennis Club, the athletic facility is now one of four Bay Club locations in SF, the other three being clustered around the Financial District and the Embarcadero. The original Bay Club at 150 Greenwich Street was the country's first co-ed gym when it opened in 1977.
A plan for the city to lease upwards of 8,500 hotel rooms to use as quarantine and shelter facilities for healthcare workers, SRO dwellers, and the homeless is still moving forward. Though over the weekend we learned that only 300 of those rooms had so far been secured by the city to house vulnerable members of the homeless population.
Photo courtesy of The Bay Club