Couple seeking OK for new Leesburg entertainment complex

Leesburg commissioners heard the first reading of three ordinances Monday night that if approved will pave the way for a new family entertainment center in the city.

Scott Christley, of Marbendale Associates and owner of Skate World in Leesburg, shows the audience at Monday night’s Leesburg Commission meeting his plans for an entertainment center off State Road 44.

One ordinance calls for 9.65 acres south of State Road 44 and east of Whitney Road to be annexed into the city. Another amends the city’s comprehensive plan designation on the property to City General Commercial. And the third ordinance rezones the property to Small Planned Unit Development to allow for the business.

The entertainment center is being proposed by Scott and Mary Christley, of Marbendale Associates. They have owned Skate World in Leesburg for 35 years and the new facility will offer a roller-skating rink, a 12-lane boutique bowling alley, a two-story Laser Tag arena, rock-climbing walls, mini-golf, Spin Zone Bumper Cars, a go-cart track, and a full restaurant and sports bar. It also will have a second-story area that can be rented out for corporate events and things like that, Scott Christley said.

The proposed entertainment center, which will house a roller-skating rink, a 12-lane boutique bowling alley, a two-story Laser Tag arena, rock-climbing walls, mini-golf, Spin Zone Bumper Cars, a go-cart track, a full restaurant and sports bar and an area that can be rented out for corporate events, would be located on 9.65 acres south of State Road 44 and east of Whitney Road.

The city’s planning commission and staff are recommending approval of the ordinance changes to allow the new business to be built on the property that currently has one single-family home on it. A memo to commissioners from Deputy City Manager Mike Rankin and Planning & Zoning Manager Dan Miller also points out that there will be a “significant fiscal impact” to the city through increased ad valorem taxes and utility fees.

Public Works Director D.C. Maudlin said water is available approximately 300 feet east of the property and a wastewater connection is about 2,100 feet to the east. He said a grease trap will be required if the facility goes through with offering food service. And he suggested a traffic study in coordination with the Florida Department of Transportation to determine if a turn lane will be needed into the entertainment center.

Scott Christley explains his plans for an entertainment complex off State Road 44 and Whitney Road to some area residents who expressed concerns about the new facility being in their neighborhood.

Commissioners will make a decision on the three ordinances at a future meeting when a second reading is held. Members of the public also will be invited to speak at that time.

Even though commissioners didn’t take any action Monday night, several residents who live near the proposed entertainment center expressed concerns. They said they are worried about increased traffic on Whitney Road, which will be used by customers going into the facility. And they expressed concerns about the width of Whitney Road and bright lights from the center’s parking lot in a rural area that usually is very dark at night.

This map shows the various land uses surrounding the 9.65 acres that Scott and Mary Christley, of Marbendale Associates, hope to build a new entertainment center on in the near future.