PHARR – As city leaders gathered at the construction site to break ground for what would be the future home of Topgolf, a 55,000-square-foot entertainment venue that features a golfing range on steroids, bulldozers had cleared the land while stakes and spray paint marked where the building would be erected.
Not a typical groundbreaking, even though ceremonial dirt was shoveled and ceremonial tee shots were struck. The City of Pharr signed the agreement Dec. 7 with the company that employs 14,000 people, 2,700 of them in Texas and from there construction has moved quickly hoping to meet the Winter 2018 deadline.
The Topgolf coming to Pharr will sit on 15 acres along the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 2 and East Frontage Road. It will be a 72 bay, climate controlled facility. Usually the company constructs 102 bay facilities. But Alan Davis, the person making sure the 11th Topgolf in the state comes to fruition said it being smaller will not take away from the Topgolf experience.
The layout will be different than other Topgolf facilities throughout the country including a different layout, with a lot of natural light and a beer garden.
“We'll go into the community and try and find local breweries to feature,” Davis said.
The length of the Topgolf will also be shorter. Usually the range is 215 yards, in Pharr it will be 185 yards.
A strategic analysis done by the Pharr Economic Development Corporation showed the need for development of entertainment options.
“This was one of those key points the City of Pharr needed in order to knock off the wants of the plan,” Pharr city manager Juan Guerra said. “Right now we're concentrating on that and we're looking at another entertainment option which we can't talk about right now.”
The competition among the cities in the area hoping to secure a Topgolf was fierce.
The negotiations between Topgolf, Pharr's neighboring cities and the rest of the Rio Grande Valley are something that will probably never come to light. But Guerra feels having political maturity, stability with city administration and the location of the land were among the key factors of winning the bid.
“There are other locations that are attractive in the Valley,” he said. “But this location right now is important.”
Guerra continued by saying the City of Pharr held strong in not giving away land. With the tax payer on the hook for the land city leadership wanted to make sure anyone that developed the location, did so responsibly.
Out of the gate the city paid $1.2 million in the form of prepping the land like utilities but that is a reduction on the sale of the land. The land was appraised at $4.9 million.
Other items on the plan Pharr's strategic plan to better the way of life include working closer with the PSJA school district which Pharr feeds the most amount of students. The partnership has made advancements like going from 60 acres of park space to 120 acres. A large portion of the park space came from school district land.
The city also invested into multiple housing options which five incentive options have been created.
Of course the entertainment aspect needs have been met with Topgolf.
“If you notice on what we're doing is just trying to meet the recommendations of the strategic plan,” Guerra said.
Although not unique to Pharr but also falls under the plan, Topgolf always associates itself with local school districts to help golf teams.
Topgolf estimates to serve approximately 300,000 people in its first year of operation.