In the early hours of Thursday morning, Latitude 360 quietly shuttered its doors permanently at its Southside location in Jacksonville. A note posted on their front door announced the closure, and thanked Jacksonville patrons for 5 years of support.
The venue had been chronically behind on rent and was the subject of an eviction lawsuit filed by landlord 30 West Pershing LLC. The lawsuit alleged that the company was delinquent on rent payments dating back as far as 2012, to the tune of $3 million. The company’s Indianapolis location has also closed, after temporarily being shut down briefly late last year.
When we visited the Jacksonville location this afternoon, notices had been placed on the venue’s doors indicating that they were also behind on tax payments.
To those who were unaware of the company’s recent financial struggles, the closure comes as a huge surprise. The venue was filled up on a nightly basis, serving as a popular entertainment destination for many in the area. With how busy and seemingly successful the location was, it seems unfathomable that the company was unable to pay its rent or taxes.
Whatever the true cause of Latitude’s financial issues may be, one thing is clear: the blame for the failure of Latitude 360 in Jacksonville falls squarely on the shoulders of Latitude itself, not the city. As mentioned, the venue was a hit among many in Jacksonville, and had been so for much of its 5-year stint in the Southside area.
The closure opens up its Southside location, once a Toys ‘R’ Us prior to Latitude’s renovations, to potentially host another such entertainment venue. It has an ideal interior layout for such a tenant; the location featured a large bar, bowling alleys, an arcade room, a private theatre, and plenty of dining space.
Other such venues may be apprehensive to open in the space for several reasons: it’s an already-built facility rather than something they designed from scratch, it isn’t near bustling activity centers such as St. Johns Town Center or Riverside, and the landlord may now be inclined to keep a tighter leash on rent payments due to Latitude’s payment issues. The failure of Latitude may also create an impression that Jacksonville can’t adequately support such a venue, even if Latitude’s financial troubles seem to be their own fault.
However, the allure of the building’s pre-existing structures as well as the crowds even a financially-incompetent venue was able to draw should certainly be more than enough to entice a new tenant.
There should be no doubt that the Jacksonville market can support entertainment venues. The popular Dave & Buster’s chain has operated successfully in Jacksonville since opening here in 1999. The venue routinely draws customers despite being tucked away behind office buildings and hotels just off of Butler Boulevard.
Another top entertainment venue, Topgolf, will be coming to Jacksonville later this year in a massive location located off of Brightman Boulevard next to St. Johns Town Center. Topgolf is very similar to the Latitude 360 concept, but its locations are much bigger and its central theme is golfing; it offers indoor driving ranges along with over 200 high-definition TVs and up to three stories of dining and bar space. The venues are so similar in concept that Latitude’s CEO at one point attempted to claim that its landlord was forcing it out of Jacksonville to ensure less competition for Topgolf.
Given the presence (or future presence) of these venues, in combination with popular child-geared entertainment venue Chuck E. Cheese’s preparing to open a third location in Avenues Walk this year, it seems clear that Jacksonville residents have no lack of interest in the concept of a large entertainment venue.
So what’s next for the former Latitude 360 location? It would provide the perfect opportunity for an up-and-coming entertainment venue to start off in Jacksonville with minimal overhead costs. Alternatively, if Dave & Buster’s were to wish to relocate to a more accessible location, the vacant Southside building would offer around 10,000 additional square feet compared to its current building as well as needing relatively minimal renovations.
For now, only one thing is clear about the location: Latitude 360 will not return.