STUDIO CITY, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Weddington Golf and Tennis Club in Studio City, which has been open since 1955, is one full City Council vote away from being transformed by the private Harvard-Westlake School into this: a sprawling athletic complex with two sports fields, two gyms, eight tennis courts, a 50-meter pool and a 500-car underground parking lot, plus walking and jogging trails.
The controversial proposal has divided residents of Studio City, but was approved by the Los Angeles Planning Commision on Tuesday.
"I've not been able to use that property the entire time I've been here," said 36-year Studio City resident Jon Manzanares, who supports the project. "I don't play golf like so many of the neighbors, I'm not a golfer. This is a change to open it up for all the of the rest of us to enjoy. Their plans are incredible. They're going to have walking features, jogging trails, beautifully landscaped."
"This property is used by over 100,000 people from all over the city and the county," said Studio City resident Teri Austin, who also opposes the project. "If this is allowed to be built, it's for the 1% of the 1% of the richest school in our city -- for less than a thousand of the most privileged children, walled in, enclave. They talk about public access. It's so restrictive that it's ridiculous."
Harvard-Westlake has owned the 16-acre facility since 2019 and has made dozens of changes based on community input. Although the school says their River Park facility will be open to the public, some are skeptical.
"It will rip the heart out of Studio City," said Austin. "They've made minor changes. It's like deck chairs on the Titanic. Nothing has really changed. It's a 'sportszilla.' Nothing has really changed. What we really hope is that they would put a pause on this, go back to the drawing board and come up with something that truly fits the community and benefits us."
"They could have closed it down, pending all of this approval, to get their River Park project going. They didn't do that. They've left it open to the public and they've left it open as a loss financially," said Manzanares.
The City Council is scheduled to vote on Harvard-Westlake's proposal as early as next week.