Proposed sporting facility causing unrest among Cranston residents

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CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A 35,000 square-foot Topgolf sporting facility has some residents of Cranston’s Garden City neighborhood concerned. The plans would utilize the vacant building located at 100 Sockanosset Cross Road, previously occupied by Citizens Bank. 

Topgolf advertises itself as a sports and entertainment company with more than 50 locations globally. It offers not only golf rounds but a driving range, music, restaurant and bars.

According to the developer, Carpionato Group, one-third of the 300,000 square-foot existing facility will be demolished and the remaining space will remain an office building. Then, the 35,000 square-foot Topgolf facility and adjacent parking lots will be constructed where a portion of the current building once stood. 

Kelly Coates, president of Carpionato Group, says Topgolf attracts customers later in the evening and will not cause additional traffic during peak times, typically around 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

“I’m demolishing 107,000 square feet and all the traffic that goes with it,” Coates said Friday. “The science proves that this is a reduction in traffic and this will be a great amenity to them. Just like adding a hotel to a community, Topgolf will enable them to have places to go, enjoy the entertainment and be a long lasting tenant in Cranston.” 

If all goes as planned, Coates says Topgolf plans to open in the summer of 2020. 

“The landlord’s end on this project— the demolition, creation of new parking lot and work we are doing for them— is about $15 million,” Coates explained. “The tenant investment, or Topgolf, is $25 million. The net tax proceeds for the city of Cranston are $1 million a year.” 

Although local residents are concerned traffic times will increase due to the sporting facility, a traffic study done by the city says the redevelopment would “significant decrease (105,900 square-foot) in the amount of office space and the intensity of the office use which results in a decrease in weekday morning and evening peak hour traffic from this land use.” 

Pauline DeRosa is a founding member of the Garden City Alliance, a group of locals who advocate concerns for development in that area of Cranston. 

“It’s going to be a party atmosphere,” DeRosa said Friday. “There will be five traffic signals on Sockanosset Cross Road, which is a road that is only a mile long.” 

Another member, Gretchen Bingle, says overdevelopment is an issue that stretches beyond Garden City. 

“We’re concerned what the direction of the city is as a whole as it relates to commercial development,” she said.

A walk-though of the site is planned for Saturday morning with a public hearing at Cranston’s Planning Commission Tuesday night.  

“We are very excited for the potential to become part of the local community,” Topgolf Communications Manager Morgan Schaaf said via email. “We work very hand-in-hand with city officials to make sure we are a great community partner and ease all concerns of local residents.” 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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