Hackensack, NJ Community Message Boards
General Category => Hackensack History => Topic started by: BLeafe on August 01, 2011, 12:58:47 AM
HACKENSACK SITE MAY BE PART OF REDEVELOPMENT PLAN
BY KATHLEEN LYNN
The 124-year-old Oritani Field Club in Hackensack, one of Bergen County's oldest sports clubs, has been sold and will shut its doors at the end of 2015, the club's president said Thursday.
The East Camden Street tennis club has signed a contract for the sale, but the deal will not actually close until 2015, said Theodore Agen of Fort Lee, president of the club's board. It is to continue operating until then, he said.
Agen declined to disclose the sale price or the buyer's name. He said he believes the buyer plans to redevelop the 2.3-acre site, possibly as part of a larger redevelopment plan. The City Council just last month designated the Main Street neighborhood as an area in need of rehabilitation, opening the way for infrastructure repairs and mixed residential/office/retail development.
Agen said the club's members decided to sell because the |club has been running at an annual deficit of about $30,000 on a budget of about $250,000 for several years. He said the purchaser made a down payment on the property that will help the club operate through 2015.
The average age of the club's 140 members is over 65, he said. Ideally, the club should have about 200 members to support the number of tennis courts it has, he said.
"Membership has been dwindling," said Agen, a retired software entrepreneur. "In five years, we'd probably be in an untenable position in terms of having enough people to play."
The club, which also has a pool, is assessed at $1.6 million, down from $2.3 million last year.
The Oritani club was founded in 1887 by two local groups, the Pastime Lawn Tennis Club and the Hackensack Lawn Tennis Club. It was named for Oratam, the local Indian chief of the 17th century, and was originally located where the Hackensack YMCA now stands, on 10 acres that stretched from Main Street to the Hackensack River.
The club included a baseball field, boathouse and the first bowling lanes installed in Bergen County, though it now is primarily a tennis club.
The club moved a few blocks south to its current site, on East Camden Street, in 1925, constructing a red-brick Colonial Revival building for its members.
Agen, 68, who has been a member for two decades, said he has mixed emotions about the sale.
"It was inevitable," he said. "It was going to happen sooner or later. We were able to do it on our timetable."
Hackensack City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono said he did not know who the buyer is. He said he hoped any redevelopment would "be complementary to what we're trying to do on Main Street, and our efforts to make Main Street a vibrant downtown area."
Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado contributed to this article. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Oritani was a big part of my young days in the 50s and 60s. My parents were members and some of us kids (6) would take the 165 bus (twenty-five cents) down to Hackensack and swim and play tennis for the day. Weekends were a family affair and we all went there until we were old enough for summer jobs. LITTLE KNOW FACT: Some of the great jazz musicians would play at the Oritani at Sunday afternoon "tea dances", not much tea, but incredible music from guys that were fixtures in the City. I have all the recordings from those events and they are musical history. #2 - Oritani was the first private club to invite Arthur Ashe to play in a tournament. The Easter Clay Court Championships were played there every year. Arthur first came as a 17 year from Richmond. Then a few years later won the whole thing. They should hold a reunion of past members before shutting the doors.
Hackensack's Oritani Field Club to close, but memories remain (http://www.northjersey.com/recreation/128179603_Oritani_Field_Club_to_close__but_memories_remain.html)
Monday, August 22, 2011
BY MARK J. BONAMO
Sitting on a high-fenced parcel of land adjoining River Street in Hackensack, the Oritani Field Club might be a mystery to non-members of the 124-year-old sports facility, as well as to casual passersby.
But for long-time member Teri Cerullo of Englewood, the impending closing of the club revealed something those who played tennis and swam in the pool behind its walls already knew.
"This place in the best-kept secret in Hackensack," said Cerullo. "This place has a special charm to it - it's different. Even though we have the noise, the fire engines, the police cars, we don't hear anything once we're here. We didn't want it to close. We're going to be saddened by it."
The tennis and swimming club, with its front door facing East Camden Street, was sold and will officially close at the end of 2015, according to Theodore Agen of Fort Lee, the president of the club's board. While Agen has not divulged the buyer's identity or the sale price, he believes that the purchaser will most likely redevelop the 2.3-acre site.
A redevelopment plan for the 140-member sports club would fit into the city's overall plans for the downtown. In June, the City Council designated the area as in need of rehabilitation, a move designed to facilitate residential, retail and office development, as well as infrastructure improvements.
Club officials and residents alike gave similar reasons for the club's closure: a declining and aging membership, reduced revenue and real estate realities. The club was recently assessed at $1.6 million, significantly less than the $2.3 million of last year.
Events in the club's history are touchstones in Hackensack's history - its founding in 1887; its naming after Oratam, the famed 17th century American-Indian chief; its move in the 1920s from the original site, where the Hackensack YMCA now sits, on land that stretched from Main Street to the Hackensack River; the fact that Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Arthur Ashe played on the tennis courts; that Johnny Weissmuller, Olympic champion and a cinematic Tarzan, graced the pool.
The membership itself voted to approve the board's decision to close the club. But Elisabeth Ries, the first female president of the club, noted that in the end, memories matter more than money as she placed a higher value on remembered elegance rather than on fading finances.
"I remember a black tie Governor's ball right here," said Ries, a 40-year club member, walking through the club's ballroom on an impromptu tour. "This dance floor was full, and we had a good time. I come here all the way from Suffern, New York, and I'm still coming."
"This was a very formal country club in the middle of Hackensack," said Jackie Muhlstock, of Teaneck, a member since 1968. "If you were in the bar after 6 o'clock, they rang a bell, and you couldn't stay in your tennis clothes."
"It was also very family-oriented. There were lots and lots of kids," added Muhlstock. "The lifeguards used to have to blow the whistle for an adult swim. My kids used to spot pins in the old bowling alley. My three sons grew up here, and I grew up here. You have no idea how much this is breaking my heart."
Business decisions often don't, or can't, account for sentiment. But for Teri Cerullo, the club will always have a piece of her heart.
"We don't have the million-dollar look that the other, more-expensive clubs have," Cerullo said. "But we have the people. This may not appeal to everybody, but it appeals to us. We made this place a home away from home."
Hackensack's Oritani Field Club winding down
August 4, 2014 Last updated: Monday, August 4, 2014, 1:21 AM
By EMMA HINCHLIFFE
Will Persson of Leonia warming up last week for the Bergen County clay court championships at the Oritani Field Club in Hackensack.
The best tennis players in Bergen County meet on a stretch of clay courts in the middle of Hackensack every year. But this year's tournament was the second to last, before the Oritani Field Club closes by the end of 2015.
The member-owned club, which opened in 1887, was sold four years ago on the conditions that the closing date was set five years in the future and that the club was given money up front to continue operating until then.
I wonder if the writer is related to John Hinchliffe, the former Paterson mayor for whom another "grand old lady winding down" - Paterson's Hinchliffe Stadium - is named.
That "old lady's" fortunes are currently looking a lot better than our old lady's.
I got an email today from member Skipx219 telling me that this was happening, so I took a stroll over there.
The tennis courts are being dug up and parts of the back of the main building and parts of another behind it are down. I shot what I could from 3 sides.
In the parking lot to the club's immediate west are signs saying that the building's demolition will take place this Saturday.
Thanks again for the tip, Gene!
0. I saw this crane early this morning in the OFC vicinity and was hoping it was there for some other purpose. It was. I found it in the Eastwick College parking lot.
1, 2. I parked near Giant Farmers Market and walked over to where I stopped shooting in the previous post. The fence and the "Entrance - Members Only" sign were already gone. I spoke with some workers about when on Saturday the front of the FC would be torn down. "Saturday? That won't happen until next week". They didn't mind that I wanted to take a couple of pictures, so I started with this 2-picture photostitch and then a closeup.
3. I took this one from Farmers. I wonder how long that sign will last.
4,5. I walked around toward the front on Camden St and saw this..............thing. Is this a Zamboni for clay courts?
6, This doorbell gets rung for the last time next week.
7,8. I'm guessing this is where Comfort Coal made their deliveries.
9. This "OFC" is part of the balcony above the front door (see previous post). I hope this gets preserved somehow. There's too much history there to lose it.
disgusting loss of history and a community facility.
Here's what it looks like since Friday. The main building and the pool appear to be the only intact parts of the OFC left.
1. The view from E. Berry St (and Giant Farmers Market)
2. A 4-image photostitch............lots of scrolling to the right
3.On the left is the Hekemian notice posted on a wall between OFC and a parking lot for Main St stores. On the right, the wall is flat on its back.
4. I'd be doubly cautious.
5. This is all I could see of the pool.
6. The view from E. Camden St, near River St.
7. Growing through the chain-link fence
8. One of the lights on the River St side
9. The view from E. Berry by River St
I drove by today to make sure the they hadn't started on the front of the building yet and took a few shots.
1-4. King of the Hill and close to the edge. They weren't picking up stuff and dumping it - they just seemed to be doing a lot on tamping down.
5. I wanted to get another shot of the front balcony (with its "OFC"). I'd like to see if anyone has an interest in preserving it. For all I know, it might be already spoken for, but if anyone has a good idea, let me know. After I took the first shot, I went around back to get some more pix of the pile. When I returned to the front, I saw little pieces of........something.....falling from a window. It turns out that someone was upstairs scraping away by that window. Suddenly, the balcony doors opened (second pic) and then I saw the worker (pic #3). I asked him for his best guess as to when the front might come down.
"Maybe toward the end of the week?"
It just as well, as it's supposed to rain for the next 2 days.
6. In looking at a shot I took yesterday, I saw something familiar - a brick that said "HB CO" (circled) - Hackensack Brick Company, which I wrote about last year (http://www.hackensacknow.org/index.php/topic,3280.msg10960.html?PHPSESSID=608f84be1baba67948bc52bdf223118f#msg10960).