Go Karts are coming. Though not the extravagant vision that was 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-carts will transform the vacant lot at 2100 East Harding to family fun entertainment.
Approved by the Pine Bluff Urban Renewal Agency Board on Tuesday, PBURA will go under contract with Amusement Products & Amusement Constructions to create a "superior race, ride and experience attraction."
"We've been talking about the Go Kart track for a long time," said PBURA Executive Director Chandra Griffin. "Originally we had a budget set but once we got figures back we were over budget."
According to Griffin, they were quoted a price tag 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, architectural site plans and floor layouts included the design of the entertainment facility, the construction of the track and an added bonus: an 18-hole mini-golf course.
The projected building plans also included party rooms and a dual restaurant with restaurant-grade appliances.
Two party rooms with a movable wall to accommodate a larger party were included as well as an arcade area of about 20 arcade games, two air hockey tables and a restaurant bar with indoor/outdoor space and customer service.
That go-kart track was set up for 18 karts, and at the time Griffin said she had an interested operator.
"We went through some different things to try to eliminate some things to see if we could get within 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 is the primary focus."
The revised go-kart track will be a 780' long track, 20' wide, and will hold 13 electric go-karts consisting of single and double riders.
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 excited the estimates came in with what they are," said Go Forward Pine Bluff CEO Ryan Watley. "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 three to four-week completion timetable is expected once they are on-site and all the designs are done.
With the elimination of the building from the original plan that included indoor entertainment and food, Urban Renewal board member Kirby Mouser said he was concerned about the concession element.
Griffin said at the moment they did not have an interested operator, to which Mouser said the reason might be the lack of concessions.
"An operator is also going to want to have concessions," said Kirby. "That's part of their operations in all of the go-kart tracks that I've seen. If there is no concession stand, building or facility in the plan, that may be causing a problem in finding an operator."
Griffin said there is an memorandum of understanding agreement with The Generator, which will be responsible for finding an operator. As far as concessions are concerned, Griffin said space for food trucks will be available. She also said the architect can draw in a concession stand with a covered building that will house the restrooms and the entrance pay area.
"Even if it is unfinished and doesn't have kitchen appliances, it will still provide for concession operations," said Mouser. "If you can't find an operator that's not a good thing."
An option to add a mini golf course was included, but Griffin said right now the track is the focus and the addition of the mini golf course all depends on how much the other expenses such as electrical work will be for the track.
"We want to get those additional costs because the grading still has to be done," she said. "Some electrical and the plumbing has to be established at the site before they actually come on. I want to get those cost estimates in before we go forward."
According to the contract, the first payment for the construction work is $40,000 when the contract is in place and a start date is secured. The first payment will be a nonrefundable deposit.
The second payment of $95,000 will be due upon arrival of the foreman and crew on site. The third payment of $78,000 is due when the forms are set and ready to pour. The fourth payment of $70,000 is due when the track is poured. The fifth payment of $50,000 is due when the pit is poured. The sixth payment of $5,700 is due when the rail is installed and the safety sign is hung. The total construction cost is $338,7000.
"If we move now, September will be the earliest they will be able to come on-site to do the work," said Griffin, who said the lead time will be used to construct the design of the track.
"I'm excited about the pricing," added Watley. "It's affordable and it's top-notch. It allows us to be able to get back on track."