Tennis courts to replace projects

Herald Intern

Xs Tennis, 1301 E. 47th St., has begun clearing the way for a move to the former site of the Chicago Housing Authority’s Robert Taylor Homes in Bronzeville, at 51st and State streets.

Xs Tennis owner Kamau Murray said he planned the move to provide the business with a needed expansion and relieve tension over what would happen to his current site when LA Fitness, which shares the complex, opened its new location in Harper Court.

The Robert Taylor site housed 28 buildings of 16 stories each, providing more than 4,400 units of housing. Today there are no high rises left on the sprawling site — it is mostly acres of vacant land — but CHA plans include a new mixed-income housing development, and now maybe a few tennis courts.

Murray did not expect to lose Hyde Park customers because of the move.

“There will be no other place to play tennis,” he said.

The CHA has voted to approve an amendment supporting the tennis scheme to the annual plan submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The amendment, if approved by HUD, would allow the sale of part of the old complex to Xs Tennis at fair market value for the creation of “Tennis Village,” a retail and sports complex.

A statement from the CHA said the Xs Tennis proposal would provide jobs and a “safe haven” on the site.

Murray added that the new space would allow him to beef up programming he now provides through grants in CPS schools.

“If 10 percent of kids [in the free school program] want to go further with tennis … right now we just don’t have enough courts,” he said.