City Planning staff recommend rezoning for proposed Drive Shack golf facility

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Landry Walker Preparatory makes a musical entrance during Battle of the Bands at the "Instruments A-Comin" benefit concert, silent auction and community arts fair in front of Tipitina's Monday evening (Claire Byun/cbyun@nolamessenger.com).

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

The Drive Shack golf facility under consideration for the former Times-Picayune site on Howard Avenue nabbed a recommendation for rezoning approval from City Planning staff, subject to a few building design changes suggested by the Design Advisory Committee.

The proposed entertainment hub would require tearing down the old newspaper building completely, but the owners of the property say they are committed to preserving the massive murals inside. The Drive Shack parent company operates 80 golf courses across the United States, but the new Drive Shack entertainment centers represent an effort to make the sport more accessible — no country club memberships are needed, and anyone can show up and start to play the game. Technology in the facility will allow both new and experienced golfers to document and improve their shots.

The facility needs a special kind of zoning called a “planned development district.” City Planning staff recommended approval, subject to several provisos. The biggest change stems from the Design Advisory Committee’s comments about enhanced treatment of the building corner facing South Broad Street and
Howard Avenue. Staff suggest improving that lot through material changes, changes to massing, additional fenestration, signage, or other means.

The facility in New Orleans 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.

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

Staff also request new plans indicate a minimum of 207 parking spaces and 25 short-term bicycle parking stations. The site plan includes 265 on-site parking spaces, and developers will change the impermeable surfaces that cover the site currently to modern standards, retaining the first inch-and-a-half of stormwater on site and thus reducing street flooding during storms, said Miles Granderson, of Sherman Strategies, at a March neighborhood meeting.

The property must also undergo a traffic impact study through the Department of Public Works. Officials are also in discussions with the city to improve the area of Broad Street under the overpass to make the site more accessible and attractive, Granderson said.

City Planning staff recommended rezoning because the entertainment hub is consistent with the Master Plan, meets the intended use of a “planned development district,” and brings a vacant building back into use.

“The overall levels of activity generated by the proposed use would be compatible with the surrounding mix of commercial and industrial uses,” according to the staff report.

The City Planning Commission will hear Drive Shack’s rezoning request at an upcoming meeting before it moves to City Council for final approval.

A rendering of the outdoor golf area at the proposed Drive Shack.

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