12.03.2013 LIBN | Driving range kicks the bucket
By David Winzelberg
Brokers are scouting national retail tenants for a new, 13-acre shopping center rising on the site of a Farmingdale driving range.
Developers RRDHC, a partnership of investors from Manhattan and upstate, have secured a long-term ground lease for the Broadhollow Road golf facility from owners Joseph Gazza and Fred Koehler. The company plans to start construction on the new center by spring.
Sabre Real Estate Group in Garden City is currently seeking tenants for the development, dubbed Route 110 Square. Sabre brokers have been negotiating with several national and regional chains in an effort to fill the center’s estimated 150,000 square feet of retail space, slated for completion in Q4 2014.
“We’re in the process of sorting through the prospective tenants,” Sabre broker Scott Sher said.
Although the center’s final configuration will depend on the actual tenants signed, Sher said there will likely be room for one or two big-box retailers, a couple of restaurants on pad sites and some multitenant spaces.
The property was a vacant lot until 1991, when it was turned into a golf driving range by Orient Associates. Orient went bankrupt 10 years later and in 2001 the facility was taken over by another firm, Senior Tour Players.
Five years later, that operation also went belly up, so the property owners decided to run the driving range and miniature golf course complex themselves, setting up Galer Golf, which has managed the Skydrive Golf Center ever since.
Peter Hofrichter of Farmingdale-based Tack Development, managing agent for Galer Golf, said the driving range needs a comprehensive overhaul, an expensive proposition the owners don’t want to take on. He said a combination of property taxes and high operating expenses limits the profitability of the business, no matter how many buckets of balls it sells.
“A driving range is not the highest and best use for the property,” Hofrichter said.
Though there are still several driving ranges attached to area golf courses, and a few town-owned ranges, there are only three privately owned stand-alone ranges remaining on Long Island. The Oakdale Golf Center in Oakdale, the Spring Rock Golf Center in New Hyde Park and Country Fair Entertainment Park in Coram – which also relies on go-carts, laser tag, rides and batting cages – are the only ones that haven’t already been redeveloped for more profitable uses.
In Farmingdale, the highest and best use will be retail, and that’s what drew the Route 110 Square developers to the property.
“The site sits in a great location within the Route 110 corridor, with tremendous retail synergy surrounding it,” Sher said.
The new retail center will compete with two others nearby – the 447,000-square-foot Airport Plaza owned by New Hyde Park-based Kimco Realty and the 250,000-square-foot Republic Plaza owned by Breslin Realty in Garden City – as well as a Costco and Target, all within a mile of the driving range site.
Skydrive will remain open until construction on the new shopping center begins.
“It’s a nice place for families and we have a lot of regulars,” Hofrichter said. “It’ll be a little sad to see it go.”