TopGolf’s poles and nets now tallest structure in Alpharetta

Alpharetta might like to take a mulligan on its decision with TopGolf.

top golf logoTopGolf is a unique entertainment complex that leverages embedded RFID technology within a golf ball to create a high-tech driving range experience. In January of last year the city approved their plans to build along GA-400 just north of Mansell Road.

But along the way everyone forgot about the height of the poles and netting. City staff, planning commissioners and council all missed the opportunity to ask about it. And certainly TopGolf wasn’t going to make an issue of it last year.

And just how high are the poles? They’re 138 feet as measured from the average grade of the property. Measuring in averages can be a little distorting. Other TopGolf facilities across the country have poles as tall as 150 to 160 feet or about the height of a 12-story building. To put that into perspective, the tallest building in Alpharetta is the Windward Marriott at eight stories.

And if you’ve driven up GA-400 in the past few weeks you’ve likely noticed. The poles and nets tower above the pines in the undisturbed buffer along the highway. TopGolf also sits on rising land. Motorists entering the city from the south will be greeted by the sight.

It’s the kind of issue Alpharetta would have liked discussed a year ago. No one would want to turn away TopGolf, a unique attraction that will employ as many as 400. But the city might have steered them towards another location versus creating a potential eyesore on a hill.

Instead TopGolf had to come back with a height variance request last month, smack dab in the busy phase of their construction. It put Alpharetta’s Council between a rock and a hard place. Rejecting the request might create a second stalled construction project along Westside Parkway (the other being Fulton Science Academy’s land). And there’s no doubt TopGolf would have appealed such a rejection, especially after having invested so much to this point.

With no other choice, Alpharetta quietly and most certainly reluctantly approved the height variance. Sometimes it best to play your ball where it lies versus taking the penalty stroke.

33 Responses to “TopGolf’s poles and nets now tallest structure in Alpharetta”

  1. Parker February 26, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    Yeah, well that’s par for the course in Alpharetta.
    The city council never misses an opportunity to miss something. They fell all over each other to rush through the bonds for the city center project but they forgot to put the utility lines underground. So now we’ll have a pretty downtown park with giant poles and wires running through it.
    When they move a roadway or alter an intersection they always forget to save space for bike lanes but then say that it is too expensive to add them later.
    They allocate hundreds of thousands of dollars for plants along GA400, but we can’t get Main Street widened and get traffic lights at Canton or Vaughn. Main Street traffic is going to only get worse as more dense housing is put up in Milton. It’s going to be like Holcomb Bridge Road soon.
    When they gave Fulton County the land for the new library did they arrange to take back the land from the old library?

  2. Scsa31274 February 26, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    I think it’s kind of neat looking. It creates a kind of “oh what’s that” interest on 400. Brings folks around to see what’s up

  3. A February 26, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    Alpharetta is run by a bunch of clowns, and this is an excellent case in point. When we started seeing the poles, I had no idea it was from Top Golf. Way to go Alpharetta in making the normally tree-lined drive up GA 400 littered with poles the height of tall office buildings.

    And Top Golf in general sounds extremely elitist, so part of me hopes they don’t do as well as they hope.

  4. Greg February 26, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    Even worse if they should go out of business. If you ever drive I-75 south of Macon you know what I mean.

  5. W. Beck February 26, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    I was wondering how that came to be. I’m sure it was a surprise to the council when they started setting them. In reality, they aren’t that much taller than the pines near it — but the perspective coming up 400 as you come past Holcolmb Bridge is weird.

    Once you get inside the actual city limits the nearly disappear until you are passing the complex.

    Coming south on 400 they aren’t nearly as noticeable.

    Either way.. I don’t think it is the best looking thing in the world, but in a few months you’ll barely notice it. If a net poking above the pines is what we pay for 450+ jobs, and a fun sounding place.. I guess I can live with it…

  6. Shawn D. February 26, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    Maybe they should have spent less on their fancy golf balls and more on the rigging company, seeing as how uneven the pole height and spacing appear.

  7. Nate February 26, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    Actually Alpharetta City Council approved a zoning variance for Sanctuary Parkway across the street for 2- 12 story buildings a couple of years ago. They haven’t leased the space yet so they haven’t started building.

  8. S Lee Guy February 26, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

    @Nate – There are several places in the city zoned for tall buildings that are yet unbuilt. Avalon, Windward Mill and Paridot all have plans for buildings that exceed 8 stories. And I think there’s another behind Best Buy. Once the office space vacancies go down I’d expect to see these start to come out of the ground. I kinda wish Alpharetta would prohibit structures from exceeding treetop level. But unfortunately this town will go vertical in the next decade.

    But for now, TopGolf is the tallest (although there may be a cell tower bigger).

  9. JP February 27, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    When I saw the fencing, my first thought was that was Alpharetta’s border security fence to keep all the undesirables from Roswell out!

  10. Michael Cross February 27, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    @Parker. (1) The City has already approved burying utilities in the City Center project. There will not be “giant poles and wires running through” the park. (2) The plants along GA 400 at the interchanges were paid for by the North Fulton Community Improvement District, not the City. (3) We’ve already started designing the improvements to Highway 9 / Main Street from Old Milton Parkway all the way to Windward Parkway, including two lanes traveling in each direction, wide sidewalks, and bike lanes. GDOT is providing funding for this project.

  11. Parker February 27, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    @Michael Cross – Thanks for the reply.
    Another gotcha that Lee didn’t mention was the business of soil stability in the city center project adding unplanned cost. That’s basic site planning even way back was I was studying engineering.
    Taken together these episodes make it seem as through the city is not paying enough attention to the details behind the proposals.
    When Haynes Bridge Road was relocated to the East, new poles and lines went in. Why incur the added expense and disruption of planting them then only to bury the lines later?
    It would be great to see those plans for Main Street. Can we expect the same level of enthusiastic publicity that came with the city center project?

  12. Jerry K February 27, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    I actually like it. It’s really only visible from the Holcomb Bridge exit to the Mansell exit. I hope it brings jobs and business to the city.

    @ Parker. If you were the only source of news for the city, I’d swear it would sound like we are living in the dark ages.

  13. AlphaJD February 27, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

    I thought they were poles for a circus or something at the Verizon amphitheater. Alas…

    @Greg- That is EXACTLY what my hubby said when he saw them- “Hope it doesn’t go under in a few years because then it will look just like that dump on I-75.”

  14. Parker February 27, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    @Jerry – no, not the dark ages. We are fortunate enough to live in a community with many positives. This makes it much easier to notice when something doesn’t meet the usually high standards.
    When the approval was given for the golf range, was the height of the poles not through of, or did the city council just skip over that detail because they were afraid that the owners would build elsewhere? The ‘How did this happen?’ question is more important than the height of the poles.

  15. W. February 28, 2014 at 7:24 am #

    “When Haynes Bridge Road was relocated to the East, new poles and lines went in. Why incur the added expense and disruption of planting them then only to bury the lines later?”

    Those poles are staying — they are all on the East side of Haynes Bridge, not part of the new City development. The utilites to serve the new city center will be underground.

  16. Mike Kennedy February 28, 2014 at 8:09 am #

    @Parker: The city of Alpharetta submitted Main Street improvement plans to Georgia Department of Transportation in the spring of 2013. GDOT, which controls Highway 9, is in the process of reviewing those plans. They have the final say.

    I don’t know about enthisiastic publicity, but you find can info on the Main Street improvements here:

    Envision Main Street website:

    http://envisionmainstreetalpharetta.com/

    Backup information for council agenda item, 4/22/13:

    http://alpharetta.ga.us/files/docs/pdfs/Council%20Meetings/2013/04-22-2013-CM/ITEM%20VIA-1%20-%20Envision%20Main%20Street.pdf

    Audio and meeting minutes of Envision Main Street approval at council meeting, 4/22/13:

    http://alpharettaga.suiteonemedia.com/Web/Player.aspx?id=136&key=-1&mod=-1&mk=-1&nov=0

    Stories on Patch.com:

    http://alpharetta.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/put-your-stamp-on-main-street-in-alpharetta

    http://alpharetta.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/alpharetta-residents-business-owners-asked-to-plan-main-street

    http://alpharetta.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/tell-alpharetta-how-main-street-should-look

    http://alpharetta.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/consultants-reveal-residents-vision-for-alpharetta-corridor

    http://alpharetta.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/alpharetta-residents-want-more-change-to-main-street-6b3e0f73af

    http://alpharetta.patch.com/groups/business-updates/p/atlantas-tsw-wins-award-for-alpharetta-planning-project

    Coverage in Revue & News:

    http://www.northfulton.com/Articles-TOP-STORIES-c-2013-03-13-197814.114126-sub-Alpharetta-wants-Ga-9-input-Main-Street-visioning-meeting-March-13.html

    http://www.northfulton.com/Articles-TOP-STORIES-c-2013-03-19-197881.114126-sub-Alpharetta-residents-envision-Ga-9-Study-looks-at-future-development.html

    http://www.northfulton.com/Articles-TOP-STORIES-c-2013-04-24-198472.114126-sub-Alpharetta-City-Council-approves-4lane-Ga-9-design.html

    Enjoy!

  17. malagrey February 28, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    M. Cross & M. Kennedy: I don’t have time to read the local paper (I like Lee’s blog best for quick updates and fun conversation regarding the city) and was just wondering if there are any plans to connect the city with safe sidewalks and bike trails leading to downtown. I live 1.5 miles to from downtown and cannot safely get there with my child. (NO connected sidewalks on Rucker Rd). I live 2 blocks from Wills Park and am not safe walking there either due to lack of continuous sidewalks and high speed traffic on this residential road, so I have to pack up the car and drive 1 minute to safely get to Wills (which is ridiculous). I’d love to see the city connected by walkability to down town and see some massive efforts in reducing traffic speed on residential roads like Rucker, Mayfield, Broadwell etc. I believe walking/biking access to downtown will lead to a vibrant city center (not necessarily high density). This city is made up of the young and young at heart who love to be active. My subdivision is a nice mix of two story and ranch homes so we have young families and seniors and both age groups are always out walking and riding bikes. We are just trapped in our neighborhood though.

  18. @greg February 28, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    Saw it today–looks horrible. Will they paint them to help hide them, or keep them white?

  19. Mike Kennedy February 28, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    @malagrey There are plans in the works for imprpovements to Rucker Road. There were several citywide public meetings last year, followed by meetings with individual neighborhoods along Rucker.

    The result of the public meetings was suggested improvements that include 8-foot sidewalks along Rucker, turn lanes, bike lanes, better lighting, enhanced landscaping, etc.

    You can get a quick snapshot on the results of the Rucker meetings here:

    http://alpharettaga.suiteonemedia.com/Web/GenFile.aspx?d=6

    http://alpharettaga.suiteonemedia.com/Web/GenFile.aspx?d=7

    To view the council discussion and get the minutes of the meeting when the concept was approved, go here:

    http://alpharettaga.suiteonemedia.com/Web/Player.aspx?id=147&key=-1&mod=-1&mk=-1&nov=0

    Coverage from Patch.com:

    http://alpharetta.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/rucker-road-design-narrows-lanes-to-slow-traffic

    I would expect an updated discussion on Rucker Road improvements — including funding options — as we review citywide capital improvement needs later in the spring.

  20. Parker March 1, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    @W – “Those poles are staying.”
    That’s a missed opportunity. I hope that when the work being planned for Main Street is done, the utilities will be moved underground. Doing it while they are being moved as part of the overall construction project makes the cost more manageable.

  21. AlphaJD March 1, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

    When we were looking for house a few years ago, we specifically ruled out neighborhoods that were not connected to sidewalks outside the subdivision. There were very few subdivisions in Alpharetta that met the “sidewalks inside the sub” criterion, even fewer that met the “sidewalks outside the sub” criterion. Happy to say we found a home where I can start my daily run with my kid on his bike from our front door and stay on a safe sidewalk for 3 miles in any direction (save a short strip on Academy headed towards Westside that is lacking a sidewalk).

    Connectivity to destinations without having to use a car will be a key factor in creating the “vibrancy” that is mentioned in most of the articles referenced by Councilman Kennedy. We are super excited that when Avalon and City Center open, we will be able to walk/bike to those places, just like we do now for any event in downtown Alpharetta.

  22. Mike Kennedy March 1, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    @Parker Everyone obviously prefers utilities to be underground. Just know that burying utilities up Highway 9 from downtown to Windward would easily be $10 million-plus. Not a financial slam dunk.

  23. SCSA31274 March 1, 2014 at 9:43 pm #

    The city should do a tie-in with the new Godzilla movie and dress those poles up with Godzilla’s spikes. That would be pretty cool to see those rising over the trees.

  24. Tom Miller March 2, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    Top Golf poles and netting are clearly a visible eyesore from Westside Parkway and from GA 400. The applicant should have mentioned this when applying for the zoning in Feb 2013. Instead the applicant constructed the base of all 27 poles, completed 70% of the site construction and then applied for a height variance for the poles and netting, claiming a hardship if the poles were not approved.

    I blame the applicant for a omitting this key information about the poles. City Council, the Planning Commission, Design Review Board, and City staff can’t catch every omission. There was a lot of discussion about what will be seen from GA 400 and Westside Parkway, so our City Council and others asked the right questions.

    In Top Golf’s original application, they wrote, “There will be no negative impacts upon use or value of surrounding properties”. Top Golf also wrote, “The entertainment center is 45 feet tall”, and “Given the tree buffer along 400, the building should not be visible”, and “The building will appear to be two stories in height on the West Side Parkway”. These may be correct but are misleading. Top Golf had every chance to say, and by the way, there are 27 poles an average of 138 ft high with netting that will be easily seen from GA 400 and from Westside Parkway.

    Hopefully Top Golf will be forthcoming in the future when they expand to other cities. Hopefully the poles and netting will not have a negative impact on high-end development of Sanctuary Park, one of Alpharetta’s premier office parks.

  25. Parker March 2, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    @Mike Kennedy – $10M? I would love to see any credible evidence of that number, but that’s not my real point.
    My point is that we have, in our community, citizens with the professional experience and therefore expectations that our city leaders will exhibit a better long-range vision than has been demonstrated lately. If that vision were to include underground utilities as a standard, then that cost would be spread out over different projects as the developers would be required to build out that way. In the case of Main Street, pretty much all the current utility poles will have to be moved because they are too close to the right-of-way. That’s the best opportunity to put them underground. Maybe it will be too costly, but I would like to see somebody in a leadership position take the time to seriously explore such options.

    Apparently there is not much passion for improvement in these areas because most of our elected officials run unopposed.

  26. Mala March 3, 2014 at 7:32 am #

    AlphaJD: the sidewalk requirement was high on our list too when looking for a home. It was really tough. We can get to downtown on a sidewalk, buts it’s like playing Frogger with your life. I have to zig zag several times to get to wills park or downtown. This is ok when I’m alone, but tough with a toddler. I’m so glad people feel the same. Council and developers need to stop preaching high density and stop worrying about their pockets. As a civil servants, their duty is to facilitate sidewalks and bike trails and city connectivity. This would put alpharetta on the map as a top place to live. I hope we don’t turn into roswell or perimeter where apartments, townhouses, and cars and cars and cars engulf theses areas. How amazing would it be to have a truly walkable city-suburb with more people than cars on the street walking/biking to work, school, for lunch, coffee etc.

  27. Mala March 3, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    Also, the nets and posts at top golf do look pretty bad. Looks like a neat facility and am happy for those who golf, but feel bad for the surrounding current and future properties. Really city council? You totally struck out on this one.

  28. Mike Kennedy March 3, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    @Parker What’s to say it’s not being “seriously explored”?

  29. A March 3, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    We noticed this weekend that the Top Golf poles are extremely visible from Northpoint Parkway (from the Barnes & Noble at least) and felt like they were very close rather than on the other side of 400. It’s a disgrace that an upscale area like Northpoint has this eyesore looming over it. I don’t care if Top Golf is catering to a well-heeled clientele; its poles look ghetto and will drag Alpharetta’s image into the ghetto.

  30. Mala March 3, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

    M. Kennedy: thanks for the links about rucker road. During elections, I always answer the door for council member and give similar input. It was interesting to read about Woodstock and their development and I love that plans are in place to deter these folks from cutting through Alpharetta’s residential roads. I disagree with one article that states that traffic can’t be reduced. I completely disagree, as giving local people side walks and bike trails to get to work and school would take a lot of people off the roads. My son will be attending a rucker road preschool in the fall that is less than 1 mile from my house, but we can’t safely walk there. So, instead, I will pack up my mid-sized SUV (which I only have because a motorist speeding and texting on a rucker road smashed my honda civic last year and almost killed me…but that’s another story), attempt to nose into traffic to make a left onto rucker, drive 2 minutes, only to stop morning traffic again to make another left into the preschool. I also agree that alpharetta police need to catch Woodstock and Cobb speeders further up rucker in addition to wills park. Nothing puts a smile on my face more than when one of these drivers gets nabbed at wills park. The police also need to catch people violating the pedestrian cross walks at wills park. Rarely do I see drivers stop here when a kid or jogger needs of cross.

  31. Mike Kennedy March 3, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    @Mala Send me an email with your address and/or subdivision and we’ll take a look at your specific situation.

    mkennedy@alpharetta.ga.us

  32. JP March 3, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

    @A: I didn’t realize they played golf in the ghetto. Welfare and AFDC benefits must be pretty good under Obama! And to think I’m paying all these taxes to live in Alpharetta. I could enjoy the same luxuries living for free in the ghetto. Bummer.

  33. Jerry K March 4, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    @A To build on JP’s point, it really says a lot when you look forward to seeing a company fail because you don’t approve of other peoples wealth(called wealth envy). Also, I highly doubt that this will turn Alpharetta into the ‘ghetto’.

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