Goochland County’s Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval for the development of a $25 million, 60,000-square-foot golf driving range off state Route 288 at its meeting Thursday night.
The three-story golf facility, called Drive Shack, is expected to host both indoor and outdoor ranges, 90 private suites, a restaurant, lounge and event space, according to the rezoning application filed by local attorney Andy Condlin on May 2.
The application described the indoor ranges as interactive, offering “video game”-like play for customers, including virtual lights and targets that they attempt to hit.
“Our venue really offers something for golfers and non-golfers alike,” Drive Shack Inc. CEO Sarah Waterson said. “Whether it’s friends finding a new place to watch football on a Sunday, a new place to go on a date night on Saturday night, or whether it’s summer and you want to teach your son or daughter how to golf, we really cover all of those premises. In addition to that, if you’re a corporation looking for somewhere to take a client, we cover that, too. So there really is something for everyone.”
Drive Shack Inc. has begun development on its first location in Orlando, Fla., which is expected to open in early 2018. The company also won approval to begin constructing a facility in Raleigh, N.C. Each location’s development has been estimated to cost from $15 million to 20 million.
Waterson said that if Goochland’s Board of Supervisors approves the resolution, construction would begin as soon as possible, with the company aiming to complete the project in 2018.
Goochland Planning Commission member Derek Murray, who represents District 3, questioned why Drive Shack wanted to place a location in Goochland, noting the contrast with the Orlando development.
Waterson replied: “The whole Short Pump area just breathes growth to us and breathes an exuberance of not only on the young residential side, but also on the corporate side.” She said Drive Shack will also offer corporate amenities, including a seminar space.
The business is looking to enter the area of the golf realm currently dominated by TopGolf, which was reported to have been looking to build a location within the Richmond market in 2016. TopGolf facilities are typically three stories as well, requiring 65,000 square feet.
Drive Shack Inc. also owns American Golf, which currently manages 78 golf properties across 13 states. They have one in-state location in Chesapeake. Drive Shack Inc. is affiliated with Fortress Investment Group LLC, a global investment manager.
Waterson said Drive Shack would differentiate itself from other golf entertainment facilities such as TopGolf through its ambience, technology and golf partnership.
The property owners sought to rezone the 13.16 acres from agricultural to business use to construct and operate the facility to the east of Route 288, south of Interstate 64 and near the western end of Three Chopt Road.
The company presented the area as the perfect location for the range because of its minimal impact on residential communities, its proximity to retail and office buildings nearby, and ease for tourists as it’s just off a major highway.
Waterson also estimated that Drive Shack would create more than 350 new jobs.
Goochland’s 2035 comprehensive plan marked the proposed space as an opportunity for prime economic development.
Planning Commission member John Shelhorse, who represents District 4, noted the company’s recent decline in stock prices, asking if it was cause for concern.
Waterson said the company is shifting its direction toward a “growth-oriented” model.
“We’re moving from a prominently dividend-based investor base into a company that’s focused on endeavors like growing our golf business in modest growth and also in terms of building our golf entertainment business on Drive Shack’s side,” she said.
No statements were given during the public comment period.
The idea was originally introduced on April 21 at a community meeting that included a mix of representatives from the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission, property owners, applicants and county residents.
At the meeting, a few Belleview Gardens residents, initially worried about the facility’s distance to their neighborhood, according to the application. However, the owners clarified that the property was on the eastern side of Route 288, opposite of Belleview Gardens’ location to the west of the road.
Other questions at the meeting concerned details like lighting, traffic, future road improvements, and whether the facility would have an ABC license.
According to the application, the building will be 45 feet tall, and the range will be enclosed by nets supported by poles no more than 120 feet tall. Its parking lot will be publicly accessible from Four Rings Drive, with additional emergency access from Three Chopt Road.
Said Shelhorse: “I think this site would be pretty good for this venture. I think with the growth we’re enjoying on the east end of the county, it will be a good fit for it. It’s a positive employment opportunity for the county.”