The proposed Drive Shack driving range and entertainment center is no more.
Photo: City of Marietta
Photo: City of Marietta

Topgolf-style company cancels Marietta facility after $9.5M land sale

It’s a swing and a miss for Drive Shack in Marietta.

The company was set to build a 64,000-square-foot golf entertainment facility in the city’s revitalized Franklin Gateway area, but a new CEO changed course. The company has transitioned from traditional golf course managers to building entertainment centers much more like adult play centers than golf-pro stores.

In turn, the Marietta City Council voted last week to terminate its contract with the company after selling it 17 acres for $9.5 million in February.

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Photo: Courtesy of Drive Shack

“Drive Shack had a change in the CEO and other management, and the new leadership decided to focus on markets in different parts of the country,” said Bill Bruton, Marietta’s city manager.

When asked why it had reneged on the deal, Drive Shack spokeswoman Jeanette Chin said: “Marietta is a great location and the city has been an incredible partner. The change in direction comes as part of Drive Shack’s enhanced strategy and plans for growth, now led by new CEO Ken May.”

May was previously the CEO of Topgolf, which is Drive Shack’s rival and first on the market. Drive Shack has been changing from a traditional golf course operator to opening and managing golf entertainment-type facilities akin to rival Topgolf. There are currently no Topgolf locations in Cobb.

Interest in 18-hole rounds of golf has been declining over the last several years.

bond; at that time the land was 24½ acres.

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Drive Shack had pitched an indoor/outdoor facility in Marietta with 96 hitting bays on three floors.

The facility would have created hundreds of permanent jobs in addition to up to 200 construction jobs to build it.

The property where Drive Shack was planned was purchased by the city through the 2013 redevelopment

Marietta has put its back into revitalizing Franklin Gateway and pitching it as the city’s future. Some apartment buildings there had fallen into disrepair, attracting crime. Revitalization efforts included razing those apartments and displacing residents.

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Now, the area is home to Atlanta United’s high-tech $60 million training facility. And there are plans for metro Atlanta’s second IKEA store — although there is no timeline for its opening after more than a year. The Swedish furniture giant is under a $9.25 million contract to purchase 28 acres from the city for the proposed 338,000-square-foot store.

Bruton said the city still owns the land from the Drive Shack deal and will keep the $220,000 deposit.

“The city has the site back on the market, and we are very optimistic that a new contract will be announced soon,” he said.

Drive Shack, publicly traded as “DS” on the New York Stock Exchange, said it lost $42.2 million in 2017, compared to a profit a year earlier of $77.3 million. The company reported revenue of $292.6 million that year, down about 2 percent from $298.9 million in 2016.

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