The golf entertainment complex will be housed in the former Times-Picayune building, and is expected to open by the end of 2019. The 62,000-sq. ft. facility will include three levels with 90 driving bays facing a netted range outfitted with targets and ball tracking, a gaming lounge, corporate and group event space, a roof terrace and an outdoor patio area.
Drive Shack will spend $29 million to turn the former Times-Picayune building in New Orleans into a golf entertainment complex that will employ 300 people, the New Orleans-based Times-Picayune reported.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu joined Drive Shack CEO Sarah Watterson and other officials on April 12 to announce the project, which is expected to break ground sometime later this year. The venue, a multi-level facility with 90 indoor driving range bays, a restaurant and other entertainment spaces, is slated to open by the end of 2019, the Times-Picayune reported.
Drive Shack is looking forward to moving in “at the entrance to downtown New Orleans,” Watterson said. The 62,000-sq. ft. facility will serve as a way to introduce non-golfers to the idea of picking up a club, the Times-Picayune reported.
“Our mission is to put a golf club in everyone’s hands,” Watterson said.
The old newspaper headquarters, opened in 1968, has been vacant since January 2016, when the Times-Picayune relocated staff. The news organization remains headquartered in downtown New Orleans, with an additional office in St. Tammany Parish, the Times-Picayune reported.
Watterson and New Orleans developer Joe Jaeger confirmed the old newspaper hub will be completely leveled to make way for the Drive Shack complex. Jaeger, who led the group that purchased the property for $3.5 million in 2016, said the development team intends to preserve the extensive plaster bas relief mural by Enrique Alferez that decorates the building’s main lobby, and is currently getting prices from removal experts, the Times-Picayune reported.
Drive Shack is stepping into the redevelopment after its chief competitor, Topgolf, had eyed the facility for a similar project as recently as last year. The development team was ready to convert the building into an updated warehouse and industrial complex when it appeared Topgolf was out. Then a contact introduced them to Drive Shack leadership, the Times-Picayune reported.
A converted warehouse facility would have been profitable, Jaeger said, but the team saw even more value in revitalizing the area and adding to the city’s entertainment options. “The chemistry was there,” Jaeger said of talks with Drive Shack and its executive team.
Drive Shack Inc., a publicly traded company, is a relative newcomer to the golf entertainment space, but it has deep pockets. The company also owns American Golf Corp., one of the world’s largest operators of private and public golf courses, the Times-Picayune reported.
Drive Shack opened its first location in Orlando on April 7 and is planning additional locations in Richmond, Va.; Raleigh, N.C.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Marietta, Ga. Topgolf has 40 locations and is building a complex of its own in Baton Rouge, which is also opening in 2019, the Times-Picayune reported.
Early plans shared with the city show a design similar to the Drive Shack built in Orlando—a three-level facility with 90 driving bays facing a long, netted range outfitted with targets and technology for tracking the flight of golf balls hit. The project also includes parking, a gaming lounge, corporate and group event space, a roof terrace and an outdoor patio area, the Times-Picayune reported.