Urban Renewal’s planned entertainment center has been scaled back, but the go-kart track is still under construction

The go-karts arrive. While not the extravagant vision first proposed by the Pine Bluff Urban Renewal Agency last year, a $697,098 state-of-the-art go-kart track comparable to two football fields along with 13 go-karts will transform the vacant lot at 2100 East Harding at Family Entertainment.

Approved Tuesday by the Pine Bluff Urban Renewal Agency Board of Directors, PBURA will contract with Amusement Products & Amusement Constructions to create a “superior ride, ride and experience attraction.”

“We’ve been talking about the Go Kart track for a long time,” said Chandra Griffin, executive director of PBURA. “Initially, we had a set budget, but once we got the numbers, we went over budget.”

According to Griffin, they were quoted at a price of $3.5 million for just a 10,000 square foot shell building with only a budget of $3.2 million for the entire project.

Originally, the site’s architectural plans and floor plans included the design of the entertainment facility, the construction of the track and, as a bonus, an 18-hole mini-golf course.

Projected building plans also included party rooms and a double restaurant with restaurant-grade appliances.

Two party rooms with a moveable wall to accommodate a larger party have been included as well as an arcade area with around 20 arcade games, two air hockey tables and a bar-restaurant with indoor/outdoor space and customer service.

This kart track was set up for 18 karts, and at the time Griffin said it had an interested operator.

“We went through different things to try to eliminate certain things to see if we could stay on budget and we got those numbers back and we were still over budget,” she said. “So we had to go back to square one. We said we were going to build a go-kart track, so that’s the main focus.”

The revised go-kart track will be a 780-foot-long, 20-foot-wide track and will accommodate 13 electric karts comprised of single and dual drivers.

The company will design the track.

According to the company, they have built over 100 go-kart tracks in the United States and Canada. They are the leader in the design and construction of indoor and outdoor, single-level and multi-level go-kart tracks, indoor and outdoor miniature golf courses, and indoor and outdoor batting cages. They have been dedicated to building fun things for the world for over 20 years, according to their website.

“I’m thrilled the estimates came in with what they are,” said Ryan Watley, CEO of Go Forward Pine Bluff. “They are the top of the line.” Watley said the go-karts will have speakers in the headrest that will interact with the track and an estimated completion schedule of three to four weeks is expected once they are on site and all designs will be finished.

With the building eliminated from the original plan which included indoor entertainment and food, Urban Renewal board member Kirby Mouser expressed concern about the concession element.

Griffin said they don’t have an interested operator at the moment, to which Mouser said the reason could be a lack of concessions.

“An operator is also going to want to have concessions,” Kirby said. “It’s part of their operations at all the go-kart tracks I’ve seen. If there’s no concession, building or facility in the plan, it can be a problem finding an operator.”

Griffin said there is a memorandum of understanding with The Generator, who will be responsible for finding an operator. As for concessions, Griffin said spaces for food trucks will be available. She also said the architect can design a concession stand with a covered building that will house the restrooms and entrance payment area.

“Even though it’s unfinished and has no kitchen appliances, it will still provide concession operations,” Mouser said. “If you can’t find an operator, that’s not a good thing.”

An option to add mini-golf was included, but Griffin said the track is currently the focus and adding the mini-golf depends on the amount of other expenses such as electrical work for the track.

“We want to get those extra costs because the grading has yet to be done,” she said. “Some of the electrical and plumbing needs to be established on site before it actually goes live. I want to get those cost estimates before we go ahead.”

According to the contract, the first payment for construction work is $40,000 when the contract is in place and a start date is set. The first payment will be a non-refundable deposit.

The second payment of $95,000 will be due when the foreman and crew arrive on site. The third payment of $78,000 is due when the forms are ready and ready to be submitted. The fourth payment of $70,000 is due when the track is sunk. The fifth installment of $50,000 is due when the pit is sunk. The sixth payment of $5,700 is due when the rail is installed and the safety panel is hung. The total construction cost is $338,7000.

“If we move now, September will be the first month they can come in and do the work,” said Griffin, who said the delay will be used to build the track design.

“I’m delighted with the award,” Watley added. “It’s affordable and it’s top notch. It gets us back on track.”

Go Ahead, Pine Bluff CEO Ryan Watley talks about the go-kart track at Tuesday’s Urban Renewal meeting. (Pine Bluff Commercial/Eplunus Colvin)
An out-of-state outdoor go-kart track designed by Amusement Products & Amusement Constructions. (Special for trade)

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