Topgolf said late Friday that it’s dropping its plans for a second location in Charlotte’s University City area, but evaluating other spots to expand.
The company had planned to build a golf entertainment venue at the interchange of Interstate 85 and West Mallard Creek Church Road, on a vacant tract of land. But neighbors have hotly contested the plans, which they worry would create more traffic and bring noise and light pollution.
“We remain excited about Topgolf’s potential to expand to the north Charlotte area, but we have decided to put on hold our plans for a location on West Mallard Creek Church Road,” said Morgan Wallace, Topgolf spokesperson. “To ensure we choose the best possible site for the community and our business, we want to carefully explore all options available.”
The announcement Friday comes as a surprise: Topgolf had previously been enthusiastic enough about the site that it announced its plans before the rezoning approval from City Council, and sent a top executive to address City Council at a May hearing on the proposal.
The developers, Charter Properties and Browder Real Estate Group, were seeking to have the 66-acre site rezoned for a Topgolf and up to 395 apartments. A vote by Charlotte City Council on the rezoning petition had been scheduled for July 17.
Matt Browder, one of the developers, said they are reevaluating their plans for the site. They plan to continue their rezoning effort.
“Together, with Topgolf, we decided that this is not the best use of space for the golf complex,” Browder said in a statement. “We know that mixed-use development is appropriate and we are re-evaluating the use of that portion of the site plan to ensure it is more appropriate for the community.”
In addition to the neighbors’ concerns about traffic and noise – common with most new developments – the plans hit another snag when an unmarked slave cemetery was recently discovered on the edge of the site. The developers hired a historian to analyze the ground next to Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church’s old cemetery and found at least 19 unmarked graves. They pledged this week to protect and further study the area.
If Topgolf is still interested in building a second location in the University City area, they could have another option handy. Cambridge Properties is working with the owners of the planned University City auto mall site to rezone a significant chunk of land for an “entertainment district” that would be located near the intersection of Ikea Boulevard and University City Boulevard, backing up to Interstate 85.
That site was originally targeted for a five-dealership auto mall, but only Parks Chevrolet is moving there now. The site could instead accommodate an outdoor golf venue, in addition to a bowling alley, hotel, restaurants, bars and movie theater, Jay Priester of Cambridge Properties has said.
Topgolf’s first Charlotte location opened in June, drawing large crowds and long lines. Meant to appeal to non-golfers as well as golf enthusiasts, Topgolf includes a bar, restaurant and game where players hit balls at glowing targets on the ground, winning points for how close they come.
This story originally appeared on CharlotteObserver.com.
Photo: David T. Foster III/Charlotte Observer