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. 

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  1. Iam from the Mission my grandma lives blocks from there haven’t been back in 15 years my Grandpa wake and funeral was there I didn’t even know that it was closed down that long . its bad enough gentrification is going on but desecration for recreation not cool most of you all have Internet access and making comments don’t know privilege hipsters trying to take over the mission is a disrespect there should be a translater interpreter in spanish also for this topic English speaking person won’t get the local original communities input just rich up and comming yuppie input gather enough study input of the original church and people that actually went there I have a say I’m a homeboy and Iam First Nations but I’m a guest like all of you this is Ohlone land the Missions in the California coast was designed to assimilate native Americans and Mexicans these was our reservations Let us decide

  2. I don’t live in the Mission so perhaps my enthusiasm for the project might be dampened if I lived next door to it, though as a native, I’ve found that often the loudest NIMBY voices are those of recent transplants. Such as the ones who moved into SOMA (a longtime nightlife zone) only to sic the cops on nightclubs and music venues.

    It sounds like fun to me and the owner seems to be making an effort for transparency. Time will tell.

  3. This is not the miniature golf of your childhood, this is $20 rounds of golf and $12 cocktails. It will quickly lose its luster and become the site of company parties until it fails. It’s a terrible location and a horrible building. The only winner will be the landlord.

    1. “The only winner will be the landlord.”

      Don’t forget whoever wants to patronize the business until it goes under. Sounds like any other business in the city.

  4. I go by Mission Bowling Club sometimes at night and I haven’t seen drunks spilling out at night. It’s always been pretty tame as far as noise and behavior, but maybe I’ve missed the rowdy nights. The building in question here has been vacant for fourteen years – this is not a matter of displacing housing. While I would prefer other uses of the building too, I haven’t read of anyone stepping up to make that happen. If you’re really concerned about public intoxication, noise, negative effects on the community (violence, harassment, robbery, drug abuse, mental illness), you might focus your activism on and around the two BART stations in the neighborhood. But I guess if all you care about is whining about gentrification, fight the good fight against mini-golf… Keep all vacant buildings vacant, for the good of the neighborhood!

    1. I think the idea is to keep the Mission so undesirable, nobody would want to move here. Hence the garbage strewn about the streets, the vomit, urine, feces, graffiti, crime, etc.

      1. I’m sure there will be another window smashing riot either on May Day or during the Cinco De Mayo Anti Gentrification Protest. A grand annual tradition to remind us of why we can’t have nice things.

  5. And here I was thinking that violent crime, gangs human feces and trash on the street, unemployment and subpar schools were some of the problems affecting the Mission… It’s really bowling and mini-golf!

    1. Well…you’re right…let’s see how much the real estate developers and high end business owners give back to the community they’re in. I’m not holding my breath.

  6. Funny. Mission(hipster)local didn’t print my comment about white rich people gentrifying the Mission.

    1. Godzuki, your previous comment contained profanity that Mission Local does not condone. Thank you.

  7. another playground for people with disposable income.

    the “mission” and whatever that meant is over.

    becoming more like “noe valley meets northbeach”….”yuppies by day meets money bridge and tunnel crowd.

    1. Thank you. I live a block away and yes there are early morning delivery trucks, street noise etc., but the screaming young drunk people passing by at all hours on the weekend is relatively recent (past year or two). And it’s not that the loudest NIMBY voices are the new people, quite the contrary. It’s seeing the neighborhood change from a working class community and a center of leftist activism to a playground for privileged people that is very disheartening. But I guess that’s the “progress” that everyone is so excited about.

  8. Hopefully the developer listens to the neighbors more than the person who put a 24 hour laundry on 20th/ South Van Ness.

    1. What Jae said made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Maybe you can help, though: How does creating something in a building that’s been abandoned for 14 years displace residents?

  9. If these people are so worried about noise, delivery trucks, drunk people, why the hell are they living in an urban environment in the first place? If you want to live in a suburb, fine — go move there.

  10. You just have to understand that the Mission and San Francisco are full of people who call themselves “progressive” but really don’t want anything to change ever. Seeking community input is coded language for ‘I don’t want this to happen and nobody ever consulted me’ because these people are also ridiculously entitled and believe they have the right to dictate how everyone else lives and believe they speak for the entire neighborhood.

  11. Yeah, don’t quite understand what those against this are even talking about. It’s a place that’s been closed for 14 years. Who’s getting displaced if something is built there?

  12. This is awesome! It will add to the fun of living in the mission. I’m not sure how turning a vacant building into a fun place is disrespectful, but some looser will whine about anything.