A family entertainment center featuring an outdoor go-cart track, video games and a mini bowling alley will open in Fort Dodge next summer, developers of the site announced Thursday.
The center, to be located near First Avenue South and 32nd Street, will help to address the repeated complaints of young people who claim there is nothing to do in Fort Dodge, according to Tim Guderian, a Fort Dodge man who is one of the project's organizers..
"There is a niche in Fort Dodge that is completely unfilled and that is the entertainment," he said.
He and his wife, Kellie Guderian, won a $200.8 million Powerball lottery prize six years ago and are now key figures in the project. He conceived the idea for the center and they established a firm called TJK Enterprises LLC to build, own and operate it.
During a special meeting Thursday morning, the City Council moved to support the center. Councilmembers approved a resolution declaring their intent to use tax increment financing to pay the estimated $1.2 million cost of extending First Avenue South for up to 1,700 feet east of 32nd Street. First Avenue South now ends at a T-intersection with 32nd Street.
Councilman Robert "Barney" Patterson was absent from the otherwise unanimous vote to OK the resolution.
The center will have these outdoor features:
Miniature golf course
An area in which people launch water balloons at each other with slingshots
A shallow pool featuring boats that operate like bumper cars
A picnic area
The indoor attractions will include:
A mini bowling alley
A play area filled with tubes and balls similar to what is found at some fast food restaurants
A play area for children who are 5-years-old and younger
Rooms that can be rented for parties
Mayor Matt Bemrich said the center will help economic development efforts in addition to providing fun things for young people to do.
"It is something that allows us to be more competitive when recruiting companies," said Dennis Plautz, the chief executive officer of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance.
Laser tag is an activity that may be added to the center in the future, according to Tim Guderian.
Kellie Guderian said the center's features will be reviewed and possibly updated every 18 to 24 months.
All of those features will be on property the developers have agreed in principle to buy from Decker Truck Line Inc., according to Todd McCubbin, who is part of TJK Enterprises LLC with the Guderians. The property at 11 S. 32nd St. includes a house and a 25,000-square-foot warehouse on five acres.
"I think it's a tremendous decision on the part of the Guderians to support Fort Dodge and I think it's a remarkable gesture on their part to do this project," said Don Decker, the president and chairman of the trucking company.
"I think they want to capitalize on the positive developments occurring in Fort Dodge and they sense the need for a project of this type," he added. "I think they should be commended for taking the initiative to do that."
Terms of the pending sale were not disclosed. Decker said he believes the deal will be concluded within 30 days.
The site is easy to get to, according to Tim Guderian. He added that it is close to Rosedale Rapids, the aquatic center at 32nd Street and 10th Avenue North, and the retail area of Fort Dodge.
McCubbin estimated that about $1 million will be spent remodeling the warehouse. He said he didn't know how much the entire project will cost.
Renovations in the warehouse are expected to start in February, according to McCubbin. He added that the extension of First Avenue South will begin next spring.
Tim Guderian said renewable energy, possibly from a small wind turbine, will be used at the center.
A name for the center hasn't been picked yet.
McCubbin said the facility will employ 10 to 15 full-time workers and up to 45 part-timers.
The entertainment center concept emerged about four years ago when Tim Guderian began thinking about building a roller skating rink.
"It started out like a small idea like a roller skating rink, something just to get me started, and it just exploded from there," he said. "Next thing you know, we've got a family entertainment center."