Shea is thrilled to be a part of the Big Thrill Factory a family entertainment center project in Minnetonka that is redeveloping a former Kmart space on Highway 101. Read on for more:
Kmart site recast as game centerby Sam Black, Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal
Minnetonka businessman Barry Zelickson plans to convert part of a closed Kmart store on Highway 101 into an entertainment center called the Big Thrill Factory.
Zelickson, whose day job is working as senior vice president of Border Foods Cos. in Golden Valley, is majority partner in the new venue.
Big Thrill Factory has a lease for about 38,000 square feet of space in the 120,000-square-foot former Kmart at 17501 Highway 7. Kmart closed in 2009. Northern Tool + Equipment Co. also leases part of the same center.
Big Thrill Factory will have activities such as bowling, bumper cars, laser tag and a black-light ropes course. A 13,000-square-foot seasonal outdoor area will have a mini-golf course, trampolines and a climbing wall.
There also will be party space and a restaurant serving burgers, pizza and ice cream, as well as beer and wine.
The center is slated to open in December. The plan just started going through the city of Minnetonka planning process with a neighborhood meeting July 25.
Zelickson expects the center will have between 50 to 80 workers, depending upon the season.
Zelickson has worked on the concept for two years. The equipment and construction of the space will cost between $3 million and $5 million. Money is coming from friends and family and a loan from Grand Forks, N.D.-based Alerus Financial.
The general contractor is Maple Grove-based VSI Construction Inc. and the architect is Minneapolis-based Shea.
The Twin Cities and western suburbs are underserved for family entertainment centers compared to other markets, Zelickson said.
He’s targeting the 7 to 25 age bracket, aiming to bridge the gap between Chuck E. Cheese’s, which appeals to young kids, and the grownup-geared Dave & Busters. The nearest comparison in the Twin Cities is Grand Slam, which has two locations including one in Burnsville. The biggest difference is that Big Thrill will have outdoor space, Zelickson said.
Zelickson said he approached the owner of the building after he started looking for real estate. “We were looking for indoor [and] outdoor space and trying to find a unique location.” he said.
Zelickson said he thinks the concept could expand to other locations.
“It’s a fantastic business to multiply it. But it’s a challenging concept, because you have to build it to where you put it.” he said. The site and the tenant seem like a good fit, said Eric Bjelland, executive director of the capital markets group at Cushman & Wakefield/NorthMarq, who successfully re-leased a vacant Blockbuster store near Super Target at the same intersection this year.
The former Kmart is less than a half mile from Minnetonka High School and not far from a junior high. “You’ve got a lot of housing density and good income,” Bjelland said.
This is a return to the family entertainment business for Zelickson, who owned an outdoor, seasonal Halloween attraction in Shakopee from 1995 to 2001 called Spooky World. He ended that venture when he was recruited to oversee finance, human resources and marketing for one of Spooky World’s sponsors, Border Foods. Border Foods is a franchise operator for several Yum! Brands Inc. fast-food restaurants including Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.