It’s no secret that we’ve been working hard to get ready for construction of a new 8-court facility downtown on Pearl Street. Well, the lease is now being signed and it’s official.
Then on Thursday we got more great news, about something we had expected to be months away – a third lease was signed, for a minimum 9-court facility in Brooklyn.
So, yeah, we’re going from 5 courts to at least 22 courts over the next two years or so. Our team is mostly over our surprise at this point, and we’re busy rolling up our sleeves getting ready to put the work in.
I’ll get to the details, but first the context.
The reason for this expansion is simple: our model is working. Open Squash is a bold experiment in non-profit community squash with the mission of growing squash and access to squash for all. We opened our Bryant Park center on Jan 1, 2020, and despite the immense challenges of the last two years, Open Squash — Bryant Park:
+ is at full capacity with 500 players, with a one-month waitlist for new members
+ has a thriving junior program with over 100 kids
+ enjoys a wide range of programming: leagues, clinics, ladders, box leagues, club championships
Courts are packed and we’ve got that amazing, high-energy feel of a 18-hours-a-day active squash community. More importantly, we’re inviting everyone into the community: over 25% of our membership has some sort of financial aid, including full scholarships for our Hudson Guild kids. And hundreds of our members have started with us as beginners, and it’s incredibly rewarding to watch them develop turn into squash players.
So, actually, the question might be better put as “given this, how could we not expand?” We believe in squash and are confident we can do this again, but this time for over 2000 players and not just 500. So, we’ve committed to opening two more facilities (here’s the press release).
The two projects are very different. Pearl Street is a blue-sky project carved out of the 14th floor of a downtown high rise. Eight courts including a lovely glass TV-ready show court for all our PSA friends.
The Brooklyn location, on the other hand, has an existing squash club with a great community of both adults and juniors. The lease was up and on the market, and there was a real risk that the courts would disappear, as squash courts have for decades here in the NYC real estate market. So a successful offer for the new lease was made, and we’re greatly looking forward to supporting the current group of players there. We do intend to eventually do a full renovation, but there’s still much to be figured out.
One thing is for sure though: We’ll keep driving our mission of growing the sport and opening up access to squash for all. The only difference is that now we’ll have more courts to do it on.