Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Over the front door at 7950 Audubon Drive, the letter impressions from the Mount Vernon Tennis Club can still be seen as a sign from an earlier time, where local tennis enthusiasts were honing their skills.
Now workers from Hitt Contracting are on site, converting the former tennis club to a workforce development and training center that is needed in this part of southern Fairfax County. The site is surrounded by the Audubon Trailer Park and the Audubon Apartments.
Last May, the 5.3 acres site was purchased by the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority as a first step toward enhancing needed programs and services for the communities in the Buckman Road area on the west side of Richmond Highway in the Lee District portion of Mount Vernon. This includes a 50,000 square-foot indoor tennis facility that served as a private health and racquet club for more than 45 years. Currently, officials have been coordinating with the county's Facilities Management Department on a number of improvements and accessibility upgrades before the property is conveyed by late summer 2021 to Fairfax County and the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services for operation.
The conversion will be in two phases. Phase I improvements will include minimal renovations and upgrades under the property’s current zoning to improve the existing facility’s functionality and allow for operations to begin, the county said. This includes basic accessibility improvements, mechanical, electrical and plumbing system upgrades, safety improvements and community use updates, converting the existing tennis courts to multi-surface sports courts. The improvements are expected to be completed by summer 2021.
In Phase II, more comprehensive rehabilitations will be performed after certain zoning activities take place. The Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services will address this in coordination with the Department of Neighborhood and Community Services. The scope, dates and schedule for these improvements are yet to be determined, the county said.
Accessing the new facility may be a challenge since it is behind a trailer park, but a planned Bus Rapid Transit station is not far from the site. Other transportation enhancements for the center will come in this phase, and the center has not been named yet.
Attempts to Save the Courts
Last year, a petition created by Tulip Shah, went around to save the tennis club, but this effort was unsuccessful. On the petition, an indoor tennis facility was compared to the county’s indoor ice rink in Mount Vernon, and supporters asked for the same commitment from the county. “As our County Representatives we are counting on you to keep the facility available to both our existing tennis playing residents and future residents of our county, who cannot afford to play indoor tennis locally elsewhere,” the petition stated.
The club’s last day was May 5, 2020.
Fairfax County is holding four upcoming community engagement forums to discuss the overall vision for the facility, potential resources, activities and programs.
The forum dates are:
- · Thursday, April 29
- · Thursday, May 13
- · Thursday, May 20
- · Thursday, May 27
All sessions will begin at 7 p.m. and will be hosted virtually with limited options to attend in person as well (based on all appropriate CDC and Virginia Department of Health COVID-19 guidelines). The details of these meetings will be released soon.
For questions about the minor improvements and project schedule, please contact RHA@fairfaxcounty.gov.