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Playa Del Rey’s sprawling ‘Lulu’s Place’ community center honors former USC tennis champion – Redlands Daily Facts
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Playa Del Rey’s sprawling ‘Lulu’s Place’ community center honors former USC tennis champion – Redlands Daily Facts

LOS ANGELES – On his first date with Carol “Lulu” Kimmelman, Doug suggested Kimmelman play tennis because he had been taking lessons.

That was 1989, and at the time Kimmelman had no idea what she had accomplished at USC six years earlier. So they walked down the block to a courthouse, but Kimmelman emerged after twenty minutes, panting and slick with sweat, to see his wife-to-be completely undisturbed. She hadn’t moved an inch, he remembered.

Tennis was one of Lulu’s lifelong passions, as her husband would soon learn. She was a member of the 1983 Trojans national women’s tennis team. Education was the other passion. She was a longtime teacher at Raymond Avenue Elementary in South Los Angeles, specifically working with underprivileged children. After she died of ovarian cancer in 2017 at age 53, Kimmelman and his children set in motion a plan to honor her with a sprawling community center in Los Angeles, with tennis courts and other sports facilities that would be readily available to the city’s youth . .

“How do we get the convergence of tennis and education?” Kimmelman asked Wednesday afternoon, speaking before a crowd of personal and political voters who came, in some capacity, to support his late wife. “So look back.”

With a groundbreaking Wednesday on a 31-acre site in Playa Del Rey, located next to St. Bernard High and LAX, construction has officially begun on “Lulu’s Place,” a $150 million athletics and education center honoring from the former USC. star. With plans to be completed in 2026, the design for the site includes a variety of tennis and pickleball courts, soccer fields, basketball and volleyball courts, a dog park and more, all intended to enhance recreational opportunities for a wide range of nearby schools in the region to increase. Los Angeles.

It took seven long years to get the project over the threshold, thanks in large part to the lack of available land in Los Angeles. The proposal originally focused primarily on Carson, but Kimmelman pivoted after finding that area “too challenging,” he said, due to environmental concerns. In May 2022, the Kimmelman Family Foundation contacted LAWA to submit a bid to develop a campus on land at LAX Northside.

Since then, in addition to funding from Kimmelman himself, longtime owner of private equity firm Energy Capital Partners, Kimmelman’s team has attracted a wide range of donors to Lulu’s Place: Disney, Tiger Woods’ TGR Foundation and Clippers president Steve Ballmer’s Ballmer Group. , among other things. Mayor Karen Bass took a podium at the groundbreaking site Wednesday to declare that the city was “very proud to be a partner,” and members of the LAWA and Bishop Matthew Gregory Elshoff offered their own comments in support of the project.

“When you put God, the city and the airport together, you have the perfect package,” LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell told the Southern California News Group on Wednesday afternoon.

Of course it’s not completely perfect. Many community members are concerned about the impact of the noise, field lighting and increased traffic on nearby residential areas. A Playa Del Rey resident writes in a public comment to the Los Angeles City Council that it is a “serious disservice to the local population.” residents of Playa Del Rey.”