Former PC World editor and passionate mini golfer Steve Fox hopes to bring a former mortuary building back to life as Urban Putt, a combined indoor mini golf course, restaurant and bar.
The building at the northwest corner of 22nd Street and South Van Ness has been vacant for about 14 years, but that could change as soon as next year if Fox’s plans are realized.
He has signed a 10-year lease for the 9,000-square-foot space and wants to open in 2014, if he can jump through the requisite hoops to get there. Before the project can move ahead, Fox said, he needs a conditional use permit and more feedback from the neighbors.
A few weeks ago someone posted an anonymous note on the building calling the mini golf plans “a typical show of disrespect and arrogance” and criticizing Fox for not reaching out for community input, according to SFist’s snapshot of the letter.
Fox posted a typed response to the anonymous note, encouraging community members to email him with their reactions to his plans for the 18-hole mini golf course. He told Mission Local he’s received many emails and that most of them are positive. Some people simply seem happy that the building won’t be vacant anymore, he said.
Other locals are concerned that the golf facility would create parking challenges for locals and delivery trucks, and also that the bar element would increase nighttime noise, with drunk patrons outside on the street.
In response to the congestion issue, Fox said that his facility would provide bike parking, to encourage his employees and patrons not to add more vehicles to the area. He also plans to have several meetings with neighbors about the idea in order to keep the process transparent.
The space will need some remodeling to accommodate 18 holes. Yet much of the interior renovation that was completed for a nightclub that permanently stalled during the financial crisis several years ago conveniently remains intact. The building’s current owners have made further improvements since then. Fox and his wife, Leslie Crawford, are working with Mission Bowling Club architect Matt Hollis to create a design.
Fox has been a mini golf lover since the early 1990s and has hosted many events centered around the game at his own home. He isn’t deterred by initial negative reactions to the idea of Urban Putt. In the process of trying something completely different, he sees bumps in the road as par for the course.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the size of the possible mini golf space as 99,000 square feet, when it should have read 9,000.