Residents soon will have a new option for fun and games in St. Joseph.
On Monday, the owners of Joe Town Enterprises, which operates two mini-golf courses and a go-kart track in town, announced they are planning construction on Ricky Dean’s, an entertainment complex that will be located on nine acres of property next to Holiday Inn Express off of the North Belt Highway.
“We’ve been two years into planning,” Rick Gilmore, co-owner of Joe Town Enterprises, said. “We were going to start last year but we got the opportunity to buy Cool Crest (Garden Golf), so we were pretty busy doing that and bringing that (place) up to speed. And we had to finalize our plans on this property in the meantime. So now we’re all ready.”
Gilmore bought the land from Buchanan County and is the primary investor in the project.
The amusement park will feature an 18,000-foot building that will house indoor activities including batting cages, virtual reality games and 18 holes of blacklight mini-golf. The building will also have a small bar and grill, a gelato bar and a covered-roof seating area, all featuring a Key West theme.
An outside area will have a 4,000-foot bumper boat pool along with a 35-foot climbing tower and two pinnacle ball courts.
“We felt like the things that we’ve decided were things that St. Joe would enjoy,” Gilmore said. “And we got to talk to the people that are the best at everything that we’re putting in, so we believe we’ll have a really top-draw amusement park when it’s all done.”
Gilmore said construction for the amusement park will take up four of the nine acres and they plan further development in the remaining space. He added that the company behind the blacklight mini-golf course is the same one that built the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man theme park ride at Universal Orlando.
Joe Lane, who is Gilmore’s son-in-law, said that they are excited that the park will give people something to do in St. Joseph so people don’t have to leave town for another entertainment option.
“We really like the location,” Lane said. “There’s these two hotels here… and I know that they’re at 90% capacity every weekend, so we look forward to those people coming to our business. And it’s a great place for people coming through St. Joe to pull off the highway.”
Lane said he hopes the new project will boost the community.
“People’s first impression of St. Joe is going to be like, ‘Holy cow, this is incredible,’” he said. “Maybe (our park) is going to bring more visitors and things like that, so we’re looking forward to getting it going.”
Gilmore said he is hoping construction can be finished before the year is over.
“Hopefully we’ll be done by the first of December,” he said, noting construction could be impacted by COVID-19 or the weather.