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Bayside Topgolf Proposal Goes to Environmental Review

REAL ESTATE: Hotel Planned for East Harbor Island’s ‘Elbow Parcel’

A proposal to place a Topgolf entertainment venue on land next to Harbor Island’s eastern boat basin is advancing through the planning process, the Port of San Diego announced last month.

The Board of Port Commissioners voted on Dec. 13 to move the project to environmental review. That development follows the port’s decision in January 2022 to enter exclusive negotiations with Topgolf.

Environmental review, the issuance of a Coastal Development Permit and real estate negotiations are likely to take two years or longer, port officials said in a statement.

Topgolf is based in Dallas and is owned by Carlsbad-based Topgolf Callaway Brands Corp. (NYSE: MODG).

The new complex is proposed for an 8.5-acre parcel at the southwest corner of North Harbor Drive and Liberator Way. Much of the land in the strip between Harbor Drive and the boat basin holds parking lots.

The company has proposed a 70,700 square foot, three-story facility with 102 hitting bays, facing east toward the downtown San Diego skyline. Also planned are an event/stage area, outdoor patios and additional games and entertainment. It would be served by a 293-space parking lot.

Food service is an integral part of a Topgolf location. The business advertises a sports bar-like atmosphere, with chef-driven menus and handcrafted cocktails.

Topgolf guests take part in point-scoring games in outdoor golf hitting bays that are equipped with the company’s ball-tracking technology, called Toptracer. The ball’s distance, height, speed and more are tracked. Players earn points based on the game they are playing.

At its facility in the Los Angeles suburb of El Segundo, Topgolf advertises that guests may use a hitting bay for $75 an hour during peak evening times on weekends. Prices are lower during weekdays, mornings and afternoons. A bay accommodates up to six guests.

Topgolf said in a statement that its proposed center could kick off redevelopment on port land fronting Harbor Island.

The proposal has its critics.

The port released a letter from the Imperial Beach-based Southwest Wetlands Interpretive Association, which objected to fencing off a portion of the site to public access, and concluded that “the project is not a reasonable use of public tidelands.”

‘Elbow Parcel’ Hotel Eyed

Developers have other plans for the east end of Harbor Island.

Sunroad HIE Hotel Partners L.P. would like to build a hotel on what the port calls its “Elbow Parcel” at the northeast corner of Harbor Island Drive and East Harbor Island Drive, west of Safe Harbor Sunroad Marina.

According to the port district, the Sunroad Harbor Island East Hotel would sit on a 7.5-acre site. It would include a 450-room hotel with a 12-level wing with extended stay rooms and a 15-level wing with limited service rooms. A portion of the rooms would be affordable.

Port commissioners granted concept approval and authorized the issuance of a Coastal Development Permit for the Sunroad hotel project in November 2021.

The project is anticipated to break ground in 2024.

Land adjacent to Harbor Island’s eastern boat basin might accommodate additional hotels, according to drawings presented to port commissioners.

In a footnote to the Topgolf project, Topgolf plans a second San Diego location, an 18-mile drive away from Harbor Island, in Sorrento Valley. Topgolf has proposed redeveloping the Carroll Canyon Golf Center with a three-story building with more than 80 hitting bays.

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