Dallas-based Topgolf and Georgia-based Andretti Indoor Karting & Games are in advanced planning stages for neighboring attractions on Universal Boulevard, with more than 20 acres of Orlando Equity Partners land to be acquired between the two northwest of the Orange County Convention Center, a managing member of Andretti Karting confirmed for GrowthSpotter.
A change determination for the Universal Boulevard PD/West and Northwest Parcels PSP required approval by the Board of County Commissioners earlier this month to create new lot lines on more than 75 acres across three parcels owned by Orlando Equity Partners, an LLC affiliated with Southwood Development Co. out of Atlanta.
Lot lines will allow Topgolf to acquire 11.83 acres, where it will build a 65,000-square-foot facility with a golf driving range, restaurant and associated parking, according to plans filed with Orange County.
Sale of that lot has not closed yet. A Topgolf spokeswoman said Wednesday that the company is interested in property in Orlando, but wouldn't confirm the location yet.
Andretti Karting is eying a rectangular lot of roughly 9 acres, directly south of the proposed Topgolf lot, where it would spend an estimated $30 million to build a 100,000-square-foot enclosed entertainment center with video games, meeting space, electric go-karts on elevated tracks, zip-lines, bowling, a restaurant and more, said Edison Hamann, managing member.
The Andretti Karting lot would have frontage on Universal Boulevard, which allows Topgolf's 150-foot-high driving range fence to be set back from the boulevard at an acceptable distance for county development code.
Hamann said Wednesday his firm has about 30 days left of due diligence work with H.J. High Construction of Orlando, and could acquire the land by late October.
"We've waited for the right spot in Orlando and the right time, and I think we've found it now next to Topgolf," said Hamann, who worked formerly as a general manager at Medieval Times in Kissimmee in the early 1990s. "We've had great talks in the past with (Unicorp) about developing together with the (Orlando Eye observation wheel), and with Josh (Wallack) about his polercoaster, but unfortunately we couldn't make those opportunities work."
Andretti Karting started in Melbourne in 1999 with the 18-acre outdoor family entertainment facility Andretti Thrill Park, and opened its first Andretti Indoor Karting & Games in 2001 in Roswell, Ga. A second, 105,000-square-foot indoor karting facility will open in Marietta, Ga., in early October.
Those Georgia developments helped Hamann learn about Topgolf, which has a nearby facility in Alpharetta. The ownership group behind Andretti Karting, which Hamann says has known the Andretti racing family for 26 years, owns other themed attractions in the Daytona-Melbourne area, including the Daytona Lagoon water park, which is being sold this month to allow the company to focus on its karting business expansion, Hamann said.
Looking ahead, Hamann projects the permitting process for Andretti Indoor Karting & Games to run through March 2016, construction to start in April and for the facility to possibly open in Fourth Quarter 2016.
Topgolf got its start in Great Britain, now has 19 locations in the United States, three in Britian, and opened its first Florida site in Tampa in December 2014. That $20 million, 65,000-square-foot entertainment center boasts full liquor bars, a restaurant, sports on an array of flat-screen TVs and a multi-level driving range.
Described as a hybrid of Dave & Buster's and golf, Topgolf's balls with microchips can be hit from the driving range into colored, glowing holes that tally points for the player based on distance and accuracy. Groups of up to six can compete in seven different games that involve driving distance, chipping accuracy and more niche challenges from golf.
Hamann said there is enough market share in the International Drive tourism corridor to support newcomers like Topgolf and Andretti Karting alongside similar existing attractions like Dave & Buster's, Fun Spot and I-Drive NASCAR Experience.
"This is a market that is, aside from 62 million-plus tourists, a growing market locally and fantastic corporate vistior market, and we see no issue with businesses in the family entertainment industry entering the market and provide more options," said Alejandro Pezzini, COO of Orlando's AMP Group, owner/operator of I-Drive NASCAR Experience.