Popular Cedar Rapids Tennis Club Rebrands, Adds Pickleball
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
A new vision was presented at a Tuesday night Cedar Rapids city council meeting to turn the former Westfield Tennis Club into the Smithfield Tennis & Pickleball Center.
Back in the day, a night out to dinner at Bonanza and a trip to Westdale Mall meant you'd always pass by this building. The tennis club is located at 3511 18th Ave. SW in Cedar Rapids and has been a place for aspiring tennis players and hobbyists to enjoy since 1976, founded by Chuck Schillig, his wife Elsie, and brother Don.
The building was heavily damaged in the 2020 derecho and after the Schilligs attempted to repair it, it was acquired in July 2021 by Eleven LLC. That group is now redeveloping the property into a tennis and pickleball club, according to Corridor Business Journal.
Although management admits the "timeline is fluid", early summer completion is the goal. The 1 million dollar project will include the renovation of the 41,400-square-foot building. The space will include six indoor pickleball courts and four indoor tennis courts. During the presentation before the city council, it was also touted that the facility would create eight new jobs. Councilmember Ashley Vanorny who remembers using it as a practice facility while on the Jefferson High School tennis team, was particularly pleased with the plans.
It’s incredible that this is being reinvested in, because we thought that it was just going to be a total loss, to be honest, “It’s a sizable space. Having that recreation accessible on that side of town is pretty foundational and important, particularly to all the J-Hawks over there. I’m glad somebody’s doing something really wonderful with it.
Cedar Rapids economic development manager Caleb Mason estimates the project would generate $480,000 in taxes over a 10-year standard incentive under the Commercial Reinvestment Economic Development program. The proposal will return to the council sometime in May or June when it is expected to be moved forward after consideration as an Urban Revitalization Area.
They have actually made it safe for folks to come in and play pickleball while construction is ongoing, with $50 monthly memberships, or a $5 drop-in fee per visit. Learn more here.
Pickleball has become a highly in-demand activity to be brought to Cedar Rapids. Separate from this project, the council also took up and approved unanimously a "resolution adopting plans and form of contract for a public pickleball court complex at Jones Park" in Southwest Cedar Rapids. That project, which calls for anywhere from 8-10 pickleball courts, is now open for bidding.