When Trent and Dana Knott purchased the sprawling but languishing former Acme Boot building on Madison Street, no one could have imagined the amazing transformation that would take place.
So far they have put more than 50,000 square feet of space to use with their family-owned businesses – Miss Lucille’s Marketplace, Miss Lucille’s Cafe, The Belle Hollow event center, and more, and now they are close to opening The City Forum, an ambitious family entertainment center.
With a separate entrance and parking lot at the rear of the building, guests will walk in to see a restaurant, bowling alley and lounge, go kart track, miniature golf, laser tag, concession area, party rooms and more.
As the much anticipated late-April grand opening of The City Forum approaches, Marketing Director Charlie Politi is conducting tours for a lucky few, the first to view a 120,000-square-foot indoor entertainment center like Clarksville has never seen. It is a facility with a capacity of 1,200.
“Imagine Dave and Busters on steroids,” Politi said. “This is a uniquely designed family entertainment center on track to be the second largest facility of its kind in the nation. Trent and Dana wanted to do something really cool to revitalize this old Acme Boot building that used to employ hundreds. When The City Forum is fully operational, we will employ more than 125 people.”
The go kart track will have different sessions that feature high speed or family speed karts as well as two-seat karts for parents with small children. The bowling alley has ten regulation lanes. The mini-golf features 18 challenging holes, and the laser tag area has a futuristic urban dystopia feel. If that’s not enough to keep you busy, there is also an arcade with more than 50 games ranging from old school air hockey and pop-a-shot to the latest in video games and a concession area where you can get pizza, wings, etc.
“Work on this concept really started about four or five years ago,” Politi said. “It began with the Knotts going to conventions, and similar family entertainment centers. They took ideas from the different concepts and built on them.”
“The bowling area will have a lounge with a full bar and lots of TVs. Behind that will be The Loading Dock restaurant. Its specialty will be
craft burgers and beer, and it will be one of the largest restaurants in the city.”
While the entertainment features will hopefully be open around the end of April, The Loading Dock, as well as a 400-seat event space called the Madison Room, is slated to open by fall.
“One of the other attractions not yet mentioned is the huge play-scape area for the younger kids,” Politi said. “Everything else is appropriate for kids from 10 to 80. A lot of what we do will have great appeal for younger and middle-aged adults. It’s going to be cool and inviting and it will almost feel like it’s a city unto itself.
“But this will be a great place for the kids. We believe that kids are under-served in Clarksville, so we want this to be a place the entire family will love.”
Expect great music to be playing at all times. Politi also mentioned that once the attraction is past the initial opening phase, they are hoping to do some really cool community events and theme nights. Live music in The Loading Dock is also being considered, but that, like many other ideas, is still down the road.
“I’ve been hearing about this since about the time I started college,” Politi said. “I’m so excited to come back now and be a part of this project. I grew up here, and I remember those nights thinking, wow, there is nothing to do in this town. The City Forum is definitely going to change that!”