Rob Conrad is ripping up tiles and laying down a quarter-mile track inside a vacant 135,000-square-foot building that was once a Kohl's store at 4050 W. Broad St.
If things go as planned, he will open Buckeye Raceway, a track for electric go-karts, in mid-October. It will feature 19 Sodikart RTX electric karts, which Conrad considers a step up in terms of speed and technology from gas-powered karts.
"And the track will have twists and turns, and we'll be able to change the configuration often," he said. "That makes it more interesting for people."
Conrad, who grew up in Medina, said opening a kart track has long been a dream.
"I looked all over the country for the right place, and this was it," he said.
The West Side location was the right one for him, he said because of the affordable lease on the building, owned by Texas-based Spigel Properties, combined with the proximity of Hollywood Casino Columbus and its thousands of patrons, as well as the increased pace of commercial development in the area.
He declined to discuss the lease or how much he has invested in Buckeye Raceway.
"A lot of people are putting money into their businesses around here, and they wouldn't be if they didn't see the potential," Conrad said.
Chris Haydocy of Weston Vision, an economic-development organization on the West Side, said he's pleased to see Buckeye Raceway move into the area.
"We have a lot of empty boxes, and this investment is a natural transformation from the past to the future," he said.
Haydocy also owns Haydocy Automotive, a Buick and GMC dealership, and a new Airstream dealership at the same site on the West Side.
"We need something unique and different, an entertainment venue that will attract people, and this fits the bill," he said.
Conrad envisions competitions, leagues, corporate events, fundraisers and birthday and graduation parties at Buckeye Raceway.
Plans call for racers to pay a yearly $5.95 fee to cover the cost of the helmets that drivers are required to wear and the sanitary liners inside the helmets. Races will cost $18 each for 12 to 15 laps, and less per race when packages are purchased, Conrad said.