By Tom Shevlin
NEWPORT -- The International Tennis Hall of Fame expanded its footprint last week, scooping up a prime piece of real estate abutting the new Stanford White Casino Theater. And while the purchase has had neighbors abuzz, the organization doesn't appear to have any imminent plans to develop the property.
According to land records on file with the city, the non-profit purchased 17-23 Memorial Blvd. for $850,000 on April 10.
The property, which consists of three separate buildings – one mixed-use commercial unit and a stately multi-family home with detached garage – had been owned by John Duggan, of Milton, Mass.
The most prominent building, 23 Memorial Blvd., is currently home to the Waterbrothers surf and skate shop.
Sid Abbruzzi, who owns the iconic island brand, says that his lease is scheduled to run out on Nov. 1, though he has written assurances that would bring him through the holidays.
"We're here through Christmas, definitely," Abbruzzi said.
What his plans are beyond that, he said, will depend on his new landlord.
At least for now, there doesn't seem to be much to worry about.
Speaking from Paris, Mark Stenning,CEO of the ITHOF, said the decision to purchase the property is part of an established practice by the organization of acquiring contiguous parcels around the landmark casino.
"There are no imminent plans for the property," Stenning said, noting that during the casino's heyday, it actually comprised a much more expansive swath of land that stretched into the current Bellevue Plaza shopping center.
In 2008, the Hall of Fame purchased 11 Memorial Blvd., which in recent years has housed a law firm, interior design company, and real estate office.
In all, the Hall of Fame boasts holdings that total 4.6 acres between Bellevue Avenue and Freebody Street with a combined assessed value of $8.1 million. The purchase of 17-23 Memorial Blvd. adds .23 acres to that portfolio, worth an estimated $979,900 according to the latest assessment.
And while the Tennis Hall of Fame is a 501( c)3 non-profit, according to Tax Assessor Allan Booth they do pay property taxes on the full market value of their holdings at the city's commercial rate.