GOWANUS — Advantage, Gowanus!
Plans are underway to convert a brick warehouse on Baltic Street into an indoor tennis center for children and adults.
The facility is slated to open around May of 2014, said Anthony Evrard, a Belgian with a tennis background who's a partner in the project.
The goal of the 15,000-square-foot facility will be to give a new generation a taste of tennis, but with a modern twist, said Evrard, who came to the United States on a tennis scholarship and competed in Division I for Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
"We're really excited to create something that could introduce kids to tennis in a contemporary way," Evrard said. "There's an opportunity to do something that's not the version at a country club."
In planning the facility, Evrard and his partners enlisted the help of child development experts, as well as the U.S. Tennis Association, which has been made a push recently to bring more young people into the game.
The future of the sport in the U.S. is considered to be in crisis; no American man advanced to the fourth round of the U.S. Open this year, Evrard noted.
That means the time is right to put rackets in little hands, Evrard said. But the facility will also cater to adults, with night-time playing sessions designed for active parents who want something do after they put their kids to bed.
The center will host lessons and will provide some scholarships to low-income and disabled kids. All of the courts will be indoor, but there are plans to expand to the building's roof in the future.
Brooklyn tennis players will probably welcome the new space — indoor courts are relatively rare in the borough. The closest to Gowanus are in Prospect Park and Bay Ridge.
Evrard and his partners recently filed permits to start renovating the facility, a one-story structure at 524 Baltic St., between Third Avenue and Nevins Street. It was previously occupied by a machinery moving business.
Evrard said he was attracted to industrial Gowanus in part because of the other fitness-oriented businesses nearby. The rock climbing facility Brooklyn Boulders is a few blocks away, so is a CrossFit gym, a skateboarding academy, a mixed martial arts center and a weightlifting club.
"The neighborhood is becoming a very healthy neighborhood," Evrard said. "It's an amazing opportunity to be part of the change taking place in Brooklyn."