Topgolf will build a $20 million facility at the new MidCity mixed-use development planned for the site of Madison Square Mall, providing the entertainment anchor to the project.
That’s according to Shane Davis, director of urban development for the city of Huntsville.
Topgolf, an indoor golf driving range featuring other entertainment aspects as well, announced Thursday it was locating at MidCity and providing 325 full- and part-time jobs.
“As far as the entertainment venue, they are the anchor,” Davis told AL.com on Thursday. “It’s a huge facility. It’s over a $20 million investment by Topgolf to build the facility.
“I think the public is really going to be wowed late ’17, early ’18 when they walk in the door. It is a premier destination.”
With anchor stores JCPenney and Sears scheduled to close later this month, Madison Square Mall is in its final days along University Drive at what once was the top shopping destination in north Alabama.
Demolition of the mall will begin within a few weeks, Davis said, and Topgolf will begin construction perhaps as soon as March.
“TopGolf is one of America’s best entertainment concepts,” said Odie Fakhouri, director of MidCity developer RCP Companies. “To live near one would be exciting, if your company offices near one it’ll stand to bring colleagues together, if you’re visiting Huntsville you may stay an extra night – in the end it creates another option for people to interact.”
Davis said Topgolf was a “unique” first tenant to be announced at MidCity but it signals that the development is not going to be just another retail project.
“It’s a great, great win for the project getting out of the game,” Davis said. “We’ve always touted our participation in re-development of Madison Square Mall would be such not to cannibalize other areas of the market. We don’t want to put public infrastructure in a project to only move people around.
“We knew it had to be entertainment-based mixed-use development. And to have probably the most premier entertainment venue in America being Topgolf, to have that anchored to get that concept started of an entertainment-based, mixed-use development, it’s huge going forward.”
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle echoed those sentiments.
“Topgolf is something truly unique to Huntsville, and we are excited for residents and visitors to be able to experience this entertainment concept in the Rocket City,” Battle said in the announcement. “The project in MidCity fits well with our vision for a live, work, learn and play community. Everyone needs space to play and Topgolf is a proven leader in sports entertainment.”
So what is Topgolf?
“The new three-level venue will feature 1,500 square feet of private event space and 72 climate-controlled hitting bays that can host up to six players at one time,” Topgolf said in the announcement.
“The Topgolf games can be enjoyed by all ages and skill levels, and the microchipped golf balls score themselves, providing players with instant feedback on each shot’s accuracy and distance. Each venue features climate-controlled hitting bays for year-round play, a chef-driven food and beverage menu, music, private rooms for corporate and social events, and hundreds of HDTVs.”
The company has about 30 locations open or in the planning stages across the country, Davis said. One of those soon to open is in Birmingham.
Davis said the city of Huntsville recruited Topgolf, which chose to locate in MidCity.
“We just knew Topgolf was one of these premier new brands that’s killing it across America,” Davis said. “We made a visit to them and promoted our city and really told them about the demographics of Huntsville and the job creation we’ve had. It really got us on their radar. We told them we would love to have you in our community. We think we would make a good home for you.
“They came and toured the community a couple of months later and said, ‘Yeah, you’re right. You’re a ready-made market for us with the engineering population and the population growth and the jobs coming in and the capital investments we’re making in our parks and our roads.’ It just kind of started from there.”
Devin Charhon, Topgolf’s director of real estate development, said the fact that Huntsville is the state’s fastest-growing metro area made the Rocket City a natural location. About 300,000 customers are expected in Topgolf’s first year and the company said its typical customer base is about half non-golfers.
“The extreme positive impact of Topgolf’s decision to join our MidCity project cannot be overstated,” Fakhouri said in the announcement. “Not only is Topgolf considered one of America’s most exciting and entertaining experiences, it will result in a significant economic ripple effect.
“This venue makes all the difference in transforming a project into a destination. Our goal for MidCity is to create a progressive and thriving space that transforms the way residents, locals and visitors interact. Topgolf will be instrumental in bringing that vision to life.”