Driving range at Honolulu golf course may get $50M face-lift

HONOLULU — Honolulu is looking to pair with Topgolf Hawaii to replace the driving range at one of its golf courses with a high-tech version and other golf-related activities.

The city offered Topgolf Hawaii a 20-year lease deal with options to extend up to 40 years to upgrade Ala Wai Golf Course’s traditional driving range, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday. Topgolf was offered a conditional award following a competitive request-for-proposals process that began in December.

Topgolf plans to invest $50 million on the project. The company is expected to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Ala Wai Golf Course driving range and other golf-related activities.

The partnership will pay the city a minimum annual lease rent of $1.02 million and 1 percent of its gross revenue on sales to conduct business at the prime Ala Wai location, which offers views of Diamond Head. The base rent is set to increase as the contract progresses.

The lease will require approval from the Honolulu City Council and the state Board of Land and Natural Resources since the golf course sits on state land.

The deal will boost declining revenue at the city’s six courses, where expenses exceed revenue by several million annually, said Guy Kaulukukui, director of the city Department of Enterprise Services.

Kaulukukui said the Ala Wai course’s driving range earns between $500,000 and $600,000 in annual gross revenue, a figure he expects will quadruple to about $2 million annually under Topgolf Hawaii.

The company also plans to add up to 450 jobs offering full-time, part-time and seasonal work.

Some community members like Michelle Matson have criticized the project, fearing Topgolf’s large venue will be out of place in Hawaii, especially so close to Diamond Head.

“The city seems to be running amok with overdevelopment proposals for our open green space,” Matson said.

The upgrade should be open to the public in a few years If everything works out.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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