Burlingame officials received the green light to take contract negotiations with Topgolf into full swing, as the golf entertainment chain offered $1.5 million annually to rent the city’s underused Bayfront property.
The Burlingame City Council unanimously approved Monday, July 3, continuing exclusive negotiations with the company wishing to rejuvenate the former Burlingame Golf Center.
The sizable rent offering once the facility is up and running amounts to nearly $1 million more than the initial figure floated by the company specializing in golf-style chipping games amidst a sports bar setting.
Vice Mayor Michael Brownrigg lauded the bargaining process which stands to increase the revenue available for improving the community’s quality of life.
“I think it’s a good deal for the city of Burlingame,” said Brownrigg.
Consent from councilmembers to move ahead with talks fortified a decision earlier this year to allow Topgolf to use the land ahead of competing proposals from ice skating and badminton enthusiasts who also expressed interest in the site.
Momentum for the alternative uses dwindled following the owner of Bridgepointe Shopping Center announcing his intention to reopen its San Mateo ice rink, and the badminton enthusiasts not completing their application. As a result, Burlingame councilmembers in March agreed to begin exclusive discussions with Topgolf for the property.
While negotiators will continue hammering out details of a deal expected to be finalized later, initially accepted terms guarantee Topgolf will pay $1.5 million annually for the first five years, with payments increasing in following years.
Additionally the company will construct a new facility offering 102 hitting bays spread across three stories along with a full bar and restaurant plus additional amenities expected to cost roughly $15 million.
The center would be built on the existing Golf Center site and offer entertainment, food, music, golf lessons, summer camps, tournaments and leagues. The company has said it plans to cater to local families, as well as the swaths of travelers packing the city’s string of hotels along the Bayfront.
Topgolf also expressed a willingness to pay $5,000 in monthly rent while the building is being constructed and will make commercial linkage fee contributions to a fund addressing affordable housing, in accordance with a new policy recently adopted by the council.
The company offered a $500,000 payment to address community benefits as well. Once the final terms of the contract are agreed upon, a completed contract will return before the council for ultimate approval.
The larger annual rental fees will flow into the city’s general fund, to the chagrin of affordable housing advocates who wished the money would be set aside to help those struggling to cope with the rising cost of living in Burlingame.
Councilmembers though expressed a reluctance to earmark the money for any particular use, and instead said they would dive into those talks later.
“I just don’t think it’s ripe for that conversation right now,” said Brownrigg.
Mayor Ricardo Ortiz expressed a similar sentiment.
“We will have discussions about how to allocate these funds, but that will be in the future,” he said.
City Manger Lisa Goldman said there will be no restrictions on ways the money can be used, but suggested the larger payments will likely not be received for another couple years.
“We haven’t cut off any avenues for the Topgolf money,” she said.
In previous discussions, some councilmembers had expressed interest in setting aside a portion of the Topgolf rent money to address recreational needs, since the new facility will replace the Golf Center on city-owned land at 250 Anza Blvd.
As the process moves ahead, officials said an examination of environmental impacts such as traffic mitigations will likely be in order, and Councilwoman Emily Beach suggested ramping up shuttle connections to the site as part of the effort to cut down on car trips.
With the understanding work should continue to complete the contract and officials will have more discussions about ways to use the revenue, Ortiz expressed his admiration for the early terms.
“This has been an all-around great process and I think the city will be much better off,” he said.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105