A new headquarters for the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter could be coming to Cherry Hill as part of a deal to bring the interactive driving range Topgolf to the city.
Topgolf, which has locations across the country, has been eyeing Baltimore for a location since 2016.
A deal moved one step closer last year when Topgolf and the partners behind Horseshoe Casino Baltimore submitted the lone entry in a request for proposals from the quasi-public Baltimore Development Corporation to develop the current site for the shelter known as BARCS. As part of the deal, any developer would have to use its own funds to build a new building for BARCS.
Now, according to the latest agenda from the Board of Estimates, the spending board must approve the sale of a city-owned property in Cherry Hill after another real estate deal for a new BARCS site fell through.
Per the agenda, CBAC Borrower LLC, an offshoot of Caesars Entertainment Corporation, the owner of the Horseshoe Baltimore, had a contract to purchase a property south of the casino, at 2800 Wegworth Lane, which would then be developed into a new BARCS facility.
That deal came apart when the current tenant, Fresh Creative Cuisine, could not find a suitable site to relocate.
The Baltimore Development Corporation identified a city-owned property at Giles Road, which is why the deal now appears before the spending board. But, the agenda says, because a land disposition agreement had already been reached, the city will be forgoing the public bidding process for the development.
Neither the Baltimore Development Corporate nor Caves Valley Partners, which works with Caesars, immediately responded to a request for comment.
As The Sun‘s Jeff Barker recently outlined, Caesars has been buying up land around the casino in the hopes of developing a sports and entertainment district around the Horseshoe and M&T Bank Stadium. Topgolf, which livens up the typical driving range with light-up targets, interactive games and high-end food and drink, is one component of that plan. Concurrently, a different group is reviving venerable rock club Hammerjacks, due to open in 2019.
Both SouthBmore.com and The Sun have reported that Caesars has purchased two properties between the casino and football stadium for $4.8 million and $3.2 million. The company also has an option to purchase two city-owned parking lots nearby.
The expansion comes as Horseshoe Casino Baltimore has seen its revenue steadily decline in the face of more in-state competition, particularly the MGM National Harbor, the state’s top-earner.
Caesars did not go into specifics about its plans for these acquisitions with The Sun‘s Barker, but Horseshoe general manger Erin Chamberlain told the paper: “We expected National Harbor would have an impact and it has. We have short- and long-term plans to grow our business.”
The next Board of Estimates meeting is scheduled for April 11 at 9 a.m.
This post has been clarified to reflect that the Baltimore Development Corporation identified the property and is a quasi-public agency.