By LANDON WOODROOF
Plans to revitalize the dilapidated site of the old Dolphin Club on Wilson Pike were approved Monday evening by Brentwood’s Planning Commission.
The Dolphin Tennis Club will keep some features from the old club, including six outdoor tennis courts, but add many more. That includes six more outdoor courts as well as a 36,000-square-foot indoor tennis facility that holds another six courts. A 1,500-square-foot office building will also be built.
Once a popular swimming and tennis center in town, the Dolphin Club was sold to Calvary Chapel in 2008 and subsequently fell into disrepair after plans for a church on the site failed to materialize.
In 2014, developers expressed interest in building a 119,000-square-foot assisted living facility on the site, but those plans were scuttled by Brentwood’s City Commission.
The plans approved Monday night point to a use of the property much closer to the old Dolphin Club days. In fact, that was one of the site’s main perks, Brian Sullivan, a representative for the buyers of the property, 502 Wilson Pike, LLC, said.
“We purchased this property because it was a tennis center, and we’ve identified…that Brentwood needed more tennis, and more indoor [tennis] especially,” Sullivan said at Monday’s meeting. In a Brentwood Home Page article from November, he stated that a group of tennis pros is behind the purchase.
Sullivan said that those purchasers want to make the site blend into the surrounding community.
“Our vision was to provide something that would fit into the neighborhoods,” he said. “Something that would be more of a park-like setting.”
That means lots of green space to go alongside all that tennis.
Several changes will also be coming to the site, besides just the addition of new courts.
For one thing, the entrance to the property from Wilson Pike will be closed. All traffic will enter and exit through a new, gated access point off Old Smyrna Road.
In another change, there will no longer be any need to bring swimming trunks to the Dolphin Tennis Club. The club’s pool will be demolished.
Feedback to the plan was generally positive from commissioners. There were, however, a couple of potential concerns that were addressed at the meeting.
For example, Commissioner Ken Travis said that a resident who lives near the site had asked about possible tournaments at the club. Would those cause a lot of traffic?
Sullivan said no tournaments were yet planned for the club, but that some could be scheduled later. The main focus is for the site to be a training and recreational facility.
He added that even when there are tournaments, the traffic impact should be minimal. As he explained it, tennis is not like basketball, football or any other number of sports that end when time runs out. That means you do not have a mass exodus where everyone files out at the same time.
“Tennis is a fluid sport,” Sullivan said. “Every court lasts a different amount of time.”
Commissioner Janet Donahue asked about the possibility of light pollution from the outdoor courts.
Sullivan said that lights would only be on outside when the courts were in use. The facility is set to be open until 9 p.m. each evening. City staff added a condition of approval to the site plan that requires the lights to be turned off between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Sullivan added that the new lights at the club would actually be less disruptive than the security lights at the property now.
“We’re putting out more light pollution right now than we’re gonna be when we’re in full operation,” he said.
To go along with those concerns, Travis said he had heard a great deal of positive feedback about the new plans as well.
“There’s actually a lot of people who are glad you’re cleaning up the property,” he said.