City Council green lights Topgolf project - Albuquerque Journal

City Council green lights Topgolf project

Topgolf, a restaurant and indoor golf entertainment complex, has venues in various cities, including this one in Dallas. The company is planning to build a center in Albuquerque. (Courtesy of Topgolf)

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect the correct City Council vote on the Topgolf resolution at its June 4 meeting.

It took several hours to play the final hole, but Albuquerque city councilors late Monday gave the green light to an ordinance finalizing a $2.6 million economic development package to assist Topgolf in constructing a $39 million restaurant/indoor golf entertainment complex at the former Beach Waterpark.

The vote was 8-1, with City Councilor Don Harris casting the sole vote in opposition.

The approved “project participation agreement” includes $400,000 of city general fund money unspent from the fiscal 2018 budget. The proposal also includes the city reimbursing 50 percent of incremental city gross receipts tax revenue, up to $1.8 million, to assist the site developer with costs of land, building or infrastructure.

Councilors also supported appropriating $326,000 from city transportation infrastructure tax to extend Culture Road NE from Montaño Road NE to Desert Surf Circle NE. Legally dedicated gross receipts taxes are exempt.

Councilor Diane Gibson, who cosponsored the legislation, told fellow councilors she believed the Topgolf proposal is “a solid project” as the property at the southwest corner of Montaño NE and Interstate 25 has been vacant for an extended period of time.

“One thing I like about this project is that it’s going to give that area a much-needed shot in the arm,” Gibson said.

Councilors got an earful from residents speaking on the proposal. Some were for the project. Some expressed their opposition. And others asked where councilors found the money to fund the proposal after voting to hike the gross receipts tax just months prior.

Clawbacks include a requirement for the Dallas-based company to hire 132 full-time employees. It includes penalties if the goals are not met.

Most jobs are expected to pay from about $8 to $12 an hour, according to an information sheet from the city.

Monday’s action was no surprise. The council has long supported the project. It  passed a resolution earlier this month by an 8-0 vote — Harris was unable to attend the meeting —  reinforcing its support.

But another round on a much more difficult course could be in the offing as councilors and Mayor Tim Keller’s administration continue to disagree on the merits of the proposal.

Keller, who has expressed concern over the types of jobs, lack of strong clawbacks protecting taxpayers and limited growth potential near the site, vetoed the council’s resolution on Friday.

‘This is a raw deal for taxpayers — it’s over the top,” Keller said in a text late Monday. “It would be great to bring Topgolf to Albuquerque, but this project doesn’t meet the requirements to create good paying jobs or protections to recover tax dollars if requirements are not met.”

The council unanimously overrode the resolution veto during Monday’s meeting prior to deliberations on the final ordinance. However, the mayor’s resolution veto could mean a sign of things to come as Keller could choose to veto the ordinance, as well.

The mayor’s potential veto could force the City Council to consider overriding it. The council would require six votes to override the veto.

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