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From Shoe to Fun Factory: Jefferson City considers repurposing aged building

The aged and empty International Shoe Company building could soon be remodeled into a Fun Factory.

The Jefferson City council is set to review a rezoning request by the land’s current and future owners to rezone the property from M-1 Light Industrial to a Planned Unit Development. Intended plans for the 8.43 acre site are attached to Monday’s city council packet.

Preliminary plans in the packet break down the renovations and construction into three phases, beginning with the first, fourth and fifth floors of the five-floor building.

The first floor would have a restaurant and bar, ax throwing, mini-bowling and a seasonal haunted house. The top two floors would be used for 16 apartments and six penthouses for residential use.

Laser tag, escape rooms, office space and an event center are planned for the second and third floor of the building, which would be built in phase two.

Finally, the area outside the building would be developed to allow for a zip line, mini-golf and a ropes course. The application states these additions would primarily be built behind the building, which sits at 1100 E Capitol, to reduce visibility from the street.

The Jefferson City Convention & Visitor’s Bureau, which oversees tourism efforts in the city, sent a letter to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission in support of the project.

Brittney Mormann, the communication and film director for the bureau, said there’s currently nothing like the proposed Fun Factory in the city.

“I think this is really going to add to our city’s composition with our tourism market,” Mormann said. “It’s not only going to draw people here, but maybe keep them here a little bit longer or think about moving here.”

If the rezoning request is approved, ownership of the land would transfer from DeLong Properties to ISC Fun Factory LLC, a subsidiary of an entertainment company based in Portland, Oregon.

Raymond Latocki works for the Oregon company, and said they hope to partially open the building by the end of 2019.

No opposition was voiced at the Planning and Zoning committee hearing on the project, according to council packet documents, and several Cole County residents wrote to the city in support of the project.

“I would like to see more things to do in our home town,” one resident wrote. A local realtor said, “Not only would out of town people visit The Fun Factory, they would also be likely to spend money here in our town.”

Mormann said the Fun Factory, along with the planned bicentennial bridge and riverside park, will bolster Jefferson City’s reputation as a tourist destination.

“I hope (Jefferson City) is going to be the next tourist Mecca, but we’ll see. We have to compete with Columbia, Springfield and Kansas City, but we are adding a lot of new assets to our tourism market,” Mormann said.

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