Lulu’s Place will be L.A.’s latest investment in youth sports

On May 8, one of the largest philanthropic investments ever for Los Angeles youth was launched just north of LAX. The $150 million sports and education complex will be known as “Lulu Place” in memory of Carol Richardson Kimmelman, who was passionate about tennis, teaching and Southern California. .

Lulu’s Place is located at the intersection of 92nd Street and Falmouth Avenue, next to St. John’s School. Bernard High, and will be built on 31 acres of long vacant land with public athletic and recreational facilities, including tennis, basketball and sand volleyball courts, running the full length. Soccer fields, playgrounds, walking trails and a dog park. Construction is expected to continue for two years.

“My four children and I are deeply committed to honoring Lulu’s legacy and her deep belief in the power of tennis and other sports to impart valuable life skills that are essential for personal growth and academic success,” said Lulu’s husband and major donor Doug Kimmelman. He was joined at the groundbreaking by his three older children, Annie, Robert and Tommy, who all live in Florida. “This is a once-in-a-generation investment to create generational change. Our goal is for Lulu’s Place to become a national model for making sports and education more equitable for youth.

A sign on a vacant 31-acre lot advertises the Lulu's Place development.

A sign on a vacant 31-acre lot advertises the Lulu’s Place development.

(Steve Galluzzo/For The Times)

Carol Kimmelman, known to family and friends as “Lulu,” was a Riverside native who graduated from Polytechnic High School before joining the USC tennis team and leading the Trojans to the national championship in 1983. She became a Los Angeles school teacher at Raymond School Avenue Elementary South. Los Angeles and was a strong advocate for equity in youth sports and educational opportunities.

She continues to play competitive tennis, with her club in New Jersey and more recently in La Jolla. An active member of the USTA Board of Directors, she won the New Jersey State Mixed Tennis Championship in 2009, and while undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer, founded her own spin studio called POE (Peace on Earth). She died in 2017 at the age of 53.

“She loved Los Angeles, she loved the students she taught, and she loved an active, healthy lifestyle,” said Doug, an investment banker who met his future wife in 1989. Thanks to the support of many of our charitable partners, this ambitious vision has been achieved. What our family has dreamed of for years is now a reality.

Besides the Kimmelman Family Foundation, donors include Jersey Mike’s Foundation, USA Tennis Foundation, Karsh Family Foundation, Cedars-Sinai, Providence, TGR Foundation, Ballmer Group, Alfred E. Mann Charities, Rose Hills Foundation, Hirsch Family Foundation, And Joseph Dron. LA84 Foundation and The Walt Disney Company. Los Angeles World Airports has leased the property where the sports facilities are being built to Lulu’s Place for 50 years.

“All young people deserve access to rich athletic programs and educational opportunities,” said Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, who spoke at the opening ceremony alongside City Councilwoman Tracy Park, County Supervisor Holly Mitchell (Lulu’s classmate at Riverside Poly), and the LAUSD Board of Directors. “. Member Nick Melvoin, Los Angeles World Airports CEO John Ackerman, Board of Airport Commissioners Chairman Karim Webb, USTA CEO Lou Scheer, and Tiger Woods Foundation CEO Cindy Court. “The City is proud to be a partner in supporting the development of Lulu’s Place. Our collaboration breathes new life into a site that will serve Angelenos for decades.”

Mayor Karen Bass addresses the crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony for Lulu's Place on May 8.

Mayor Karen Bass addresses the crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony for Lulu’s Place on May 8.

(Steve Galluzzo/For The Times)

Thanks to a partnership with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Lulu’s Place also plans to integrate the TGR Education Lab into the adjacent St. Bernard campus.

“This is a huge win for students in our community and will be a catalyst for positive change,” said Paul Escala, superintendent of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and superintendent of Catholic schools. “We are fortunate to be able to play a major role in bringing this amazing opportunity to the community and children.”

Dr. Jennifer Winward, founder and lead trainer of Winward Academy, an award-winning online learning platform based in San Diego, considers Lulu a mentor and friend.

“From the moment Doug and his kids told me about this project, I was proud to embrace this vision, roll up my sleeves, and get to work developing special programs for Lulu’s Place that offer students college and career opportunities they may have never known before. It was there,” she said.

Students from the nearby Loyola Fine and Performing Arts Village opened the groundbreaking ceremony by singing the national anthem, accompanied by student percussionists playing West African drums.

“This is the most important project USA has undertaken on the entire West Coast to bring high-quality tennis programs and academic programs together,” Shear said. “This project will not only inspire a new generation to pick up a tennis racket, but it will also be a community hub for children to access the resources they need to succeed in life.”

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