Waterfront development fore-cast: Topgolf tees up to build driving range facility on San Diego Bay

Topgolf’s vision includes a three-story venue that would house 102 hitting bays — and the Port of San Diego wants to build an entertainment district around it.

SD Topgolf East Harbor Island driving range rendering Port of San Diego

The driving range would include 102 hitting bays with views of downtown San Diego and the waterfront.

Rendering via Port of San Diego + Topgolf

A major development deal along East Harbor Island is driving local chatter: The Port of San Diego has agreed to sign a non-binding term sheet with Topgolf International to bring a 70,700-sqft driving range and entertainment facility to San Diego Bay.

According to the Port, the deal will provide “a negotiating framework for any potential future lease agreement between the Port and Topgolf to be submitted to the Board [of Port Commissioners] for consideration.”

The Port clarified to SDtoday: “This was not a final vote nor did the Board approve the proposed project.”

Still, Topgolf’s ambitious vision is one step closer to becoming reality. Let’s take a look at what’s in the potential fore-cast.

SD Topgolf East Harbor Island driving range rendering Port of San Diego

The proposed venue would span three stories, with tall netting.

Rendering via Port of San Diego + Topgolf

⛳ The venue and big picture

Topgolf International wants to lease a 9.5-acre site at the southwest corner of North Harbor Drive and Liberator Way, at the north basin, for the next 40 years. Topgolf would pay a minimum annual rent of $1,527,000. This project would be part of the Port’s ongoing redevelopment of East Harbor Island.

Topgolf’s vision includes:

  • A three-story venue housing 102 hitting bays, with views of San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline — with a tall netting system
  • A stage area for events
  • Outdoor patios
  • A restaurant
  • Parking, although details are to be determined

As the Port works to activate this part of the bayfront, the agency is also calling for the creation of an “eatertainment” area surrounding the Topgolf facility that could include other leisure activities like pickleball, darts, mini golf, and ping-pong alongside retailers offering food and drinks.

The Port said any future redevelopment of East Harbor Island would also include 11 acres of public waterfront parks and pathways.

SD Topgolf East Harbor Island driving range rendering Port of San Diego

Topgolf’s facility would also include a restaurant.

Rendering via Port of San Diego + Topgolf

🏗️ What’s next?

The proposed project is currently undergoing environmental review. There’s a public meeting tonight at 5 p.m. on the scope of the proposed Environmental Impact Report (EIR); you can dial in at (619) 535-7686 (passcode: 608167433#). Locals can also submit written comments about what to include in the EIR by emailing EHITopgolf@portofsandiego.org.

After 2023 wraps, the project could see a lot of movement:

  • The Port thinks public review of the draft EIR could be available within the first half of 2024.
  • The Request for Proposals for the surrounding “eatertainment” district could be issued by the first quarter of 2024, and selections of ideas could take about 6 months.
  • The board could consider project approval of Topgolf’s facility in the second half of 2024, and enter into a formal lease agreement.
  • In 2025, the timeline could bring the final approval of a Port Master Plan Amendment (as needed), a Coastal Development Permit, and the start of construction.
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