New tennis facility could draw new business 

Municipally-owned facility would be largest indoor exhibition space in Whistler

By Alison Taylor

The municipality may become the owner of a new tennis facility that can be transformed into a massive exhibition space for the resort.

“I can’t think of a single thing that we could do, other than this, to make such a dramatic impact on our convention business, filling restaurant seats, hotel beds and our stores,” said an excited Councillor Eckhard Zeidler, following Monday’s council meeting.

“With the hoped for completion of this facility, we’re moving into a whole new level of marketing.”

He imagines countless opportunities for car shows and exhibitions that could utilize the 42,000 square feet of column-free, heated space in the indoor tennis club. That’s two and a half times bigger than the ballroom at the Telus Conference Centre, which is 16,500 square feet and currently Whistler’s largest conference space.

In some ways this deal can make up for the loss of the Paralympic arena development which council turned down earlier this year, said Zeidler.

The new deal that’s in the works is part of the re-development of the Holborn lands, beside the Montebello townhomes and the current tennis club facility, directly north of the village.

Negotiations with the developer have stepped up considerably in recent months with the involvement of senior staff, specifically administrator Bill Barratt and the general manager of community life Bob MacPherson. They have been working to find a resolution to a project that has gone through various iterations over the last two years.

The developer, Vancouver-based Holborn Group, wants to rezone the property for market tourist accommodation townhouses and apartment units, rather than build a 450-room hotel/spa, which the property was zoned for 15 years ago.

The latest proposal would see the developer build 181 units of housing as well as a 12-court tennis facility (including five indoor courts, six regular outdoor courts and one outdoor stadium court) and 23 apartments for seniors housing.

Under the proposal Holborn would hand over the completed tennis facility to the municipality in return for rezoning the land for townhomes and apartments.

Mayor Ken Melamed envisions it as a southern version of the Meadow Park Sports Centre in Alpine Meadows.

The new tennis facility would have roughly the same size weight room as Meadow Park (more than 5,000 square feet) as well as a comparably sized fitness room (3,500 square feet). There would also be a two-lane outdoor swimming pool with a hot tub, two squash courts, a pro-shop and a restaurant.

Meadow Park, however, does not make money. Like most sports complexes, the municipality subsidizes Meadow Park, although it has a higher rate of recovery than most other recreation facilities of its kind.

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