River Park athletic facility in works


Will Sherwood/Chronicle

PARKS AND RECREATION: At the Weddington Golf & Tennis Property, Studio City residents use the driving range to practice golf on a summer’s day. This property was purchased by the school and will be converted into the River Park athletic facility, which is scheduled to be completed in 2025.

Will Sherwood

The school hopes to begin construction to create the $100 million River Park athletic facility, a 16-acre athletic property complete with environmentally friendly features. After a summer of preparing for upcoming approval meetings, construction is estimated to be completed by 2025.

The school spent over $40 million to purchase the Weddington Golf & Tennis property, located 1.3 miles from the upper school campus between Whitsett Avenue and the Los Angeles River.

The school revised its plans in March 2020 to include two athletic fields, eight tennis courts, a gym, an Olympic-size pool and subterranean parking. Additionally, a walking path is set to run along the property border.

The school plans to allow shuttle buses to run between the Upper School and River Park and to encourage carpooling. Drivers will be able to park in the underground lot, entering and exiting off Whitsett Avenue.

The project was created in order to allow more school sports teams to practice concurrently without having to share field space or practice late into the evening. Boys soccer player SJ Schaeffer ’23 said having more field space will benefit most sports teams.

“I think that having one field often forces practices to get cut short for another team to practice on it, making each team’s schedule more confined,” Schaeffer said. “Having more fields will give each team more time and space for every team during practice.”

The public will have access to the park every day from 7 a.m. until the facility closes. The athletic fields, tennis courts, pool and gym will also be open to the Studio City, Calif. community when school athletes are not using them.

Last April, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission studied the property’s history and allowed the school to move forward with its plan to preserve the clubhouse, putting green and golf ball-shaped floodlights. Head of Communications and Strategic Initiatives Ari Engelberg said the school is bringing the plans to the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM) for approval in September.

“Once that PLUM meeting is complete, the school anticipates moving forward with the entitlement process, which would include circulation to the public of the draft Environmental Impact Report that has been prepared for the project,” Engelberg said. “It’s too early to tell exactly when the project will break ground, but we sincerely believe that groundbreaking will take place within two years, hopefully sooner.”

Despite the school’s efforts to continue forward with River Park construction, not everyone in the community is in support of the project. The Save Weddington movement [dedicated to preserving the history of Weddington] nominated the property as a historic landmark, which could hinder the school’s construction plans.

“Save Weddington expects Councilmember [Paul] Krekorian to listen to the over 11,000 community members who have signed a Change.org petition in support of the Historic-Cultural Monument designation for Weddington Golf & Tennis,” Save Weddington representatives said in a written statement to The Chronicle in June.

Girls tennis player Chloe Appel ’23 said she believes Weddington is an important facility

“I think that there is a great community at Weddington among the coaches and the different people who currently come to play tennis and golf,” Appel said. “I want to make sure that others feel welcomed to the park and it remains a community space, not a place solely reserved for those who already have so many resources.”

Engelberg said that he understands community members’ opposition to the project but that there are many who support the school’s plans.

“It’s reasonable for community members to be concerned about change and the impact that it might have on their lives,” Engelberg said. “That said, there are lots of neighbors who are strongly supportive of the project because of the investment that it will make in beautifying and securing the neighborhood and in improving the local environment.”