Dec 102018

A rendering of the Drive Shack golf facility at the former Times-Picayune site at Howard Avenue.

By Claire Byun,

Future customers of the New Orleans Drive Shack — located in the former Times Picayune building on Howard Avenue — will pay 2 percent more in sales tax after City Council unanimously approved a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement. The city will receive a portion of the funds to pay for street improvements around the golf entertainment hub.

A rendering of the Driveshack golf facility under consideration at the former Times-Picayune site at Howard Avenue.

City Council voted last week to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with Drive Shack and the Broad Street Sports Entertainment Development District to collect a 2 percent sales tax, in addition to the roughly 9 percent sales tax already collected. Only Drive Shack customers will be levied this new tax.

The 2 percent tax will be used to help pay for the construction of Drive Shack, and will be collected until the company is fully reimbursed for construction costs or through 2039, according to city records.

The tax will be levied through the newly created Broad Street Sports Entertainment and Dining Development District, which will shuffle 75 percent of the tax profits to Drive Shack. The city, which will receive the other 25 percent of the profits, is required to undertake up to $450,000 in street improvements around the development. But if the city successfully connects Howard Avenue to the Central Business District, the tax will be shared 50-50, according to city documents.

Kim Ford, who lives on Reynes Street, spoke in favor of the development but cautioned the city council to bring in “intentional businesses” to the community — favorably businesses run by minorities.

“We have a 60 percent population that’s black and not participating in our community, and I want to hear our council be inclusive of that intentionality,” Ford said.

Site plans for the proposed Drive Shack facility on 3800 Howard Ave. allow for 90 golf bays, a restaurant, gaming lounge and bar (courtesy Sherman Strategies LLC).

Councilman Jay Banks, who represents District B, said the council intends to include as much of the population as possible. Drive Shack is required to follow the living-wage addendum set forth by the city, as well as commit to 40 percent local hires for construction labor. Drive Shack has also agreed to partner with Booker Washington High School to hire students for part-time jobs.

“I think it’s a good idea, and it’ll teach them work ethic,” Banks said.

The site was purchased in 2016 for $3.5 million by a group of investors collectively called 3800 Howard Investors LLC.

The facility near the Pontchartrain Expressway would consist of a three-story building with a 20,000 square-foot footprint along South Broad Street under the overpass, with a large outdoor driving area behind it between Howard Avenue and Euphrosine streets, according to a site plan for the project. The building will include conference spaces for events, and food and drinks will be available at any location in the facility.

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