Coliseum Center owners focusing on likely redevelopment of site

August, 1995: The Coliseum shopping Center on Independence Blvd., 20 years ago.
August, 1995: The Coliseum shopping Center on Independence Blvd., 20 years ago.

The owners of the Coliseum Center are focused on demolishing and rebuilding the mostly vacant retail strip on Independence Boulevard, although a golf entertainment complex or a renovation of the existing site are still possibilities.

Chris Bitterlin, whose partnership purchased the Coliseum Center late last year for almost $5.8 million, said he has high hopes for the site. Topgolf, a golf entertainment, food and event operator had been looking at the site, but those discussions have petered out, Bitterlin said.

“Myself and my partners love the visibility and the real estate,” he said. “We’re looking seriously at redeveloping, Topgolf or not.”

In addition to a total demolition or Topgolf, a third option would be to renovate the existing retail space on the site, Bitterlin said. “That’s still potentially an option, but not high on our list,” he said.

Most stores in the once-thriving Coliseum Center, built in 1964, have closed, as Independence Boulevard’s conversion to an expressway made access more difficult. A new Walmart SuperCenter on the adjacent parcel has brought some life back to the area and shows access problems with the site can be solved, Bitterlin said.

Marketing materials from The Nichols Company, which is representing the site, show potential redevelopment plans that could include more than 170,000 square feet of retail space and 750 parking spaces on the site, anchored by a store totaling from 52,000 square feet to 80,000 square feet.

New signage is up at the site touting the redevelopment potential.

“We’re trying to find the appropriate major anchor,” said Bitterlin. He said he and his partners have no debt on the property.

Bitterlin said he worked with Topgolf “pretty much exclusively” for about four months. “We went through quite a few iterations, trying to make it work,” said Bitterlin. “They just sort of stopped pursuing it...The conversations kind of just ended.”

Bitterlin said he’d be happy to listen to Topgolf if they wanted to restart talks about the site, but he plans to move ahead with the redevelopment as soon as possible either way.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo