A new company plans to make the city a destination place for North Texas gun fans and those who want to learn more about firearms.
Bodyguard Sports has announced that it will convert one of the city’s most-visible buildings — the former Home Depot Expo Design Center off Boulevard 26 — into an indoor shooting range complete with a gun store, a gunsmith, a café, event space, a place to shoot lasers at video simulations, and an indoor shoot house with nonlethal “Simunitions,” two rifle and pistol bays and a five-stand sport shooting place.
The business is expected to open between October and December, company founder Bill Brandenburg said.
He told the City Council he wants to create a family atmosphere that would cater to gun novices as well as expert shooters. Both alcohol and inebriated people will be banned from the business.
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“I’m looking for something that a soccer mom would be happy to come to and feel real safe and bring the kids,” said Brandenburg, a city resident.
In September 2013, the City Council voted 7-0 to approve a special-use permit to allow what was to be called Caliber Shooting Center to open an indoor shooting range at the same location. Caliber owners planned to add a second floor to the building, increasing the floor area from 92,475 square feet to 146,781 square feet. Other features included more than 60 live-fire shooting lanes, two 100-yard indoor rifle bays, seven classrooms, and a coffee shop and café area.
Caliber officials said they planned to open last summer, but the business never materialized. The special-use permit expired Jan. 1.
Earlier this month, the council voted 7-0 to approve a zoning change for Bodyguard Sports that allows the project to go forward.
Bodyguard Sports plans to use about half the building space, leaving the other half for recreation and entertainment businesses, such as a bowling alley, music venue or an archery range.
City officials believe the shooting range will be a “destination” business, meaning it will attract people to the city who might then shop or eat in area restaurants. Brandenburg said his estimated $4.5 million venture will create between 27 and 32 jobs and will have about 60,000 consumers a year.
“We’re going to bring in a lot more people that would not normally come in,” Brandenburg told the City Council. “People will come in to shoot.”
The former Expo Design Center, between Boulevard 26 and Davis Boulevard, just north of Northeast Loop 820, has been vacant since 2005, when the design center closed. Bodyguard will be within a half-mile of the new City Hall being built south of Northeast Loop 820.
Police Chief Jimmy Perdue said he supports the business, noting that Brandenburg is a city resident.
“He has a good plan and a good product,” Perdue said.