Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Editorial: Topgolf deal renewed Question: Has the public got their money’s worth?

Top golf has never been inconspicuous in Albuquerque.

Its massive fences tower over I-25. And even before construction, it was the center of a month-long debate about how much – if anything – taxpayers should intervene to lure the popular restaurant / resort to Duke City. And on a rare occasion, Mayor Tim Keller vetoed the city council’s approval of the $ 2.6 million economic development package that the council then overruled.

Ultimately, taxpayers were hooked thanks to the city and county incentives for up to $ 4.3 million for the venue on the corner of Interstate 25 and Montaño, which opened in February.

Now Topgolf is back in the spotlight.

Nine months after opening, the property and the 25,525-square-foot facility that houses the company were sold below list price to a foreign limited company. A Topgolf spokeswoman told Journal last week that the restaurant / indoor golf entertainment venue is open and there are no plans to close it.

Back in August 2018, Albuquerque City Council approved the $ 2.6 million economic development package to help Dallas-based Topgolf build a $ 39 million complex on the site of the old Beach Waterpark. The “Project Participation Agreement” included $ 400,000 from the city’s general fund, $ 326,000 to upgrade the Culture Road from Montaño to the Desert Surf Circle, and up to $ 1.8 million in gross tax revenue for the city. The deal required the city to reimburse Topgolf 50% of the city’s additional BRT revenue to support land, building and infrastructure costs. Topgolf should only receive reimbursements if it generated additional or “additional” income.

When Keller vetoed the city package, he called it a “raw deal for taxpayers”. His government raised concerns about the lack of strong clawbacks, the types of low-wage and low-skilled jobs Topgolf would create, and the limited growth potential near the site. The City Deal included penalties if annual targets were not met and a requirement that Topgolf hire 132 full-time employees; that seems to be the extent of potential “clawbacks”.

Meanwhile, Bernalillo County’s commissioners have deposited $ 1.75 million, including a $ 250,000 grant under the Local Economic Development Act and a gross tax revenue agreement similar to that of the city.

With so much public money invested, our local guides need to keep an eye on the details of this sale – and whether the public is getting a good return on their money.

Yes, the pandemic and the resulting government closures of various venues have dealt a severe blow to many companies. But public money is at stake. Why was there so much secrecy? The sale has been simmering in the rumor mill for months. The real estate agent Marcus & Millichap announced this last week, but did not disclose the purchase or sale price. Ami Meng, transaction manager at Marcus & Millichap, subsequently told the Journal that Topgolf was selling to TG Albuquerque LLC, a Las Vegas, Nevada-based limited company, for just over $ 15.3 million on October 21 became.

The property was listed on the LoopNet real estate website for $ 16 million, and the Listing Notes Topgolf invested approximately $ 16 million in improving the website.

With the city council and county chairmen so determined to bring this project down, they should keep taxpayers informed of the status of taxpayers’ money and compliance with claw back rules.

The opening of Topgolf was heralded after years of construction work and delays related to COVID-19. The unannounced sale below list price and the uncertain future raise many questions. Albuquerque and Bernalillo County’s taxpayers deserve some answers.

This editorial first appeared in the . It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than that of the authors.

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