A golf simulator business is coming to the Northtown Mall, if a change is made to city code to allow it within 1,500 feet of a school.
X-Golf was approved July 8 to move into a space formerly occupied by Best Buy. Current city code prevents the business from opening in the mall due to the proximity to a school, but a code amendment would remove the minimum distance requirements for inside the mall if it is approved.
“We think it’s actually a pretty good fit in the mall,” Community Development Director Bryan Schafer said.
The 5,000-square-foot space that opened up when Best Buy shrank is only accessible from the outside and will contain golf simulators, restaurant space and a bar.
“The concept will offer six hitting bays catering to corporate events, your everyday player, leagues, youth programs, we’ll have a PGA Pro on staff to give lessons; if you guys are a little rough on your game you can come in, and we’ll get you all fixed up,” RMA Investments President Benjamin Feret said.
The bays will offer differing levels of difficulty, adjustable tee heights as well as leagues, lessons, tournaments and club fitting. The approval of the business is contingent on the owners obtaining an amusement center license and on-sale liquor license.
X-Golf hopes to start construction in early August with a tentative opening date of Oct. 1.
Code change to affect liquor sales, amusement centers
Approval of the business came on the heels of the first reading of a code amendment necessary for X-Golf to move into the proposed location.
The move amends a portion of Chapter Six in the city code, which governs amusement centers and businesses selling alcohol.
The existing restriction requires X-Golf be at least 1,500 feet away from a school, which made the current location unfeasible due to its proximity to the Paladin Career and Technical High School located in the mall.
The amendment, which will receive a second reading Aug. 5, provides an exception for amusement centers and on-sale alcohol sales located in a regional mall.
Another option presented during the reading was the possibility of exempting golf simulators from the amusement center definition.
Currently bowling alleys are exempt from the amusement center restriction, though the extant bowling alley in Blaine does hold an amusement device license due to arcade machines on the premises.
The council moved forward with the amendment as read, and that exemption will likely not be included in the code amendment. The modification of the amusement center licensing is important as future modes of entertainment are unknown, City Clerk Cathy Sorenson said.
Two other amendments were included in the action by the council. First was removing the ban on alcohol licenses within 500 feet of a church. Impetus for the change comes from the rise of churches locating in non-traditional spaces, such as the strip mall.
“Removing that restriction would allow churches a lot more flexibility to locate,” Sorensen said. “Churches aren’t in the traditional building sometimes anymore, and removing that restriction would allow some more options for churches.”
The second was repealing amusement device requirements, instead businesses would need an amusement center license if 20 percent or more of a business’ gross area is used for entertainment.