The Avenue aiming to drive business with Topgolf simulator suites

Indoor dog park and pickleball courts also planned


As the multi-million redevelopment of the former Shops of Grand Avenue continues to take shape, its developers are taking advantage of ample space by adding entertainment and useful amenities in hopes of attracting business.

A Topgolf Swing Suite is the big name among The Avenue‘s planned attractions. It will include at least two golf simulator areas as part of the 35,000-square-foot food hall, known as 3rd Street Market Hall.

Located adjacent to the market’s 40-seat central bar, the simulators will be available for rent by The Avenue’s apartment and office tenants at a discount, and for private events.

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Topgolf Swing Suites have room for eight people to play in each bay. People can use golf simulators to play Topgolf’s target game along with other interactive games, including dodgeball, hockey shots and quarterback challenge.

The Avenue’s co-developer Josh Krsnak said a driving factor behind the Topgolf Swing Suite addition was its recognizable brand name.

“If we had said there’s a golf simulator going in the food hall nobody would care, but when we say there’s a Topgolf going in there, suddenly it’s like front page headlines,” said Krsnak. 

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Other entertainment venues in Wisconsin that have added Topgolf Swing Suites in recent years include Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee, Titletown Tech in Green Bay, and Kohler Swing Studio & Golf Shop at The Shops at Woodlake in Kohler.

After touring 50 food halls across the country, Krsnak and 3rd Street Market Hall partner Omar Shaikh found the highest performers were those with an “experiential portion.”

The hope is that Topgolf, and the food hall’s other attractions like game areas and public events, will draw attention to not only that space, but also to the project’s 52-unit Plankinton Clover apartments and 190,000 square feet of office space, said Krsnak. 

Other amenities planned for The Avenue’s ground floor include shuffleboard courts, pickleball courts, and an indoor dog park, available to tenants, complete with hamster balls for dogs, ball launching machines and tug ropes attached to the floor.

“The one thing we don’t have is a shortage of space,” he said. 

And because of how affordable it was to purchase the building, its developers are able to get creative with how they build out the space.

A group led by Krsnak and Tony Janowiec, co-developer and president and chief manager of Milwaukee-based Interstate Development Partners LLC, purchased the Grand Avenue building in 2015 for $24.5 million.

3rd Street Market Hall is slated to open in the second quarter of 2021. Construction halted this spring due to the pandemic, but resumed in August. Work is currently underway on the large central bar, which Shaikh expects to be a popular gathering spot for families and professionals alike.

The food hall will open initially with 12 local food vendors, scaled back from the 19 that were on board prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to its website, seven businesses are on board including Kimchi & Daikon, Milk Bottle Bakery, Fine & Dandy Kitchen, Saz’s, Milk Can Hambuger and Frozen Custard, Donut Monster, and Greenhouse.

Shaikh, who is also a partner at upscale restaurant Carnevor, said the operations side of the food hall has also adapted to the current environment. There will be designated parking spots for pick-up orders, which was something that was not part of the original plan.

It will also include four miniature vendor spaces that will serve as incubators for new dining concepts. The idea is to keep startup costs low so the owner or chef can build their concept on stable ground. Shaikh said there’s sure to be demand for that opportunity given the adversity restaurateurs have faced during the pandemic.

“It’s going to serve a lot of purposes,” he said. “There’s a lot of startups that don’t have the capital that need the opportunity… For more established chefs, instead of building out a million dollar restaurant seeing if it works, which most times it doesn’t, this would be an opportunity to test the market for minimal cost.”

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