Wichita Destination Developers is one step closer to moving ahead with a deal to create the first DRIV Golf Lounge & Brewhouse for its 100-acre development at K-96 and Greenwich, which includes Greenwich Place and the Wichita Sports Forum.
“As our name implies, we’re always out looking for destination experiences,” says Korb Maxwell, a Kansas City-based attorney for the group.
Wichita Destination Developers is the master developer for a 400-acre STAR bonds district at K-96 and Greenwich.
On Tuesday, the Wichita City Council unanimously approved an amended STAR bonds project and development agreement to include DRIV. The developers are asking for up to $29 million in sales tax and revenue bonds. The state now has to decide if the project is eligible for the bonds.
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The developers think the entire project, which will be on Greenwich at 29th Street, will cost $32 million.
“It’s a spin-off of the Topgolf concept that you see around the nation,” says Scot Rigby, assistant city manager.
Like Topgolf, DRIV will be an entertainment venue with food and drinks that also has a golf component. There will be bays where individuals or teams can drive golf balls that are outfitted with microchips. Points are awarded based off of what the chips record for distance.
“You and your friends, whether you’re golfers or not, can come enjoy beverages and food,” Rigby says. “It’s really popular across the country for corporate events or an evening with friends and family.”
He says an easy way to think of it is as a bowling alley for golf.
Maxwell says during a convention, one of the partners in Wichita Destination Developers met a representative with California-based Thinkwell, a global experience and design company that wants to start a chain of DRIV lounges.
“These guys are amazing,” Maxwell says. “They design first-class experiences across the world.”
If STAR bonds are approved, the Wichita DRIV would be the first one.
Maxwell says DRIV won’t happen without the bonds.
“STAR bonds are absolutely critical.”
According to DRIV’s website, it is “an entertainment complex that combines the skills of golf with group game play, fun socialization, rousing casual dining and a microbrewery/gastropub.” The site calls DRIV “a highly repeatable group experience for a broad demographic with interactive casual golf games, seasonal & tasting events, and serious golfer skill development, in an approachable yet vibrant, contemporary setting.”
“It’ll be a good amenity for the community to have,” Rigby says. “These are in high demand.”
In addition to the STAR bonds for DRIV, the developers behind the Sports Forum are seeking $22 million in STAR bonds for improvements to the city-owned 60-acre Stryker Soccer Complex north of the northeast corner of K-96 and Greenwich.
In November, the city expanded the STAR bonds district to include the complex.
Developers are seeking the bonds, which are packaged to go to the state with the DRIV bonds, to replace 10 of the 12 grass fields with artificial turf, add lighting and improve locker rooms.
“We’re obviously unbelievably supportive of it,” Maxwell says.
Rigby says it’s all about “net new activity coming in the region.”
“The whole goal … is to generate tourism dollars.”
Maxwell says new STAR bonds in the area, like the ones that paid for interchange improvements and for some of the Sports Forum, collect sales tax increments over a base of about $62 million in sales.
That’s how much retail sales were happening in the area when the district was created in 2012.
Now, Maxwell says there is upwards of $160 million in retail sales.
He says that number will grow as more businesses, such as the new DSW, continue to open at Greenwich Place.
“We believe that number is moving to $200 million or more in the very near future.”
He says STAR bonds will help continue to make the area a more significant regional attraction.
“We want to continue to accelerate the pace and development of the growth,” Maxwell says. “It’s been an unbelievable success story.”