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Permit delayed for mall and indoor gun range

Posted: September 26, 2012 - 12:04am

Juneau Mercantile and Armory could soon become the new place in town to unwind and unload machine guns.  However, its progress was delayed Tuesday when the City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission failed to reach a quorum.

A Conditional Use Permit to approve building retail space and gun range in the vicinity of the airport was postponed until at least October 9 due to a lack of quorum after Commissioner Dan Miller recused himself without explanation. Four commissioners were present and Commissioner Nicole Grewe participated by telephone. The permit was part of the planning commission consent agenda.

Juneau Mercantile and Armory LLC. was incorporated August 13 by business partners Dan Miller, president, Jason Tarver, shareholder/agent and Sloan Swendsen, director.

“We are all into guns,” Swendsen said in a phone interview.

If built, the 13,000-square foot commercial building would sit on nearly 28,000 square feet of land owned by Valley Centre Development, LLC. The two-story building would house 10 shooting lanes in the basement.

Though an Alaska Department of Fish and Game indoor range currently operates in Juneau, Swendsen said the Armory would offer gun enthusiasts and hunters certain benefits. Most striking might be the rental for onsite use of fully automatic firearms.

“You can rent a machine gun go downstairs and get the barrel hot,” Swendsen said.

And what kinds of machine guns can a customer expect to find? Not wanting to give away the surprise, “lets just say there will be a variety of belt fed machine guns,” Swendsen said. And the classics. “Everybody needs to shoot an AK 47 and a Tommy Gun.”

Juneau’s current indoor gun range is limited to .22 caliber rifles and up to .45 caliber handguns. Swendsen said the Armory plans to accommodate large caliber rifles as well.

The Armory’s permit locates the range close to the Mendenhall Valley and downtown Juneau, at the airport on the corner of Yandukin Drive, Crest Street and Airport Boulevard.

Along with the basement gun range, Swendsen said the Armory will house a firearms and archery retail store upstairs and a small bakery with smoked fish selection.

“It will be more of a social environment to do competitive league shooting,” Swendsen said. “Come in, get something to eat, have a cup of coffee take a look at ammo, guns and archery supplies.”

Though located in a commercial area, Swendsen said noise is not a concern. The Armory plans to hire Action Target help with design of the building, the same company Fish and Game used for its indoor shooting range.

“If you can’t hear it there, you’re not going to hear it here,” Swendsen said. “I have to run a business upstairs, we are spending top dollar on acoustic tiles.”

As far as bows and arrows, bullets and safety, Swendsen said plans for the underground basement range have the envelope encased in concrete.

The owners plan to style the building like a small-scale Cabela’s. A log building “with an Alaska Roadhouse feel to it,” Swendsen said.

The Armory is designed as a full-service gun store with a strong focus on gun training, safety and hunter education, Swendsen said. The facility will have a certified National Rifle Association certified instructor on site.

Trainees can go downstairs to the concealed carry class and then head upstairs to use an laser training simulator “and have someone shooting at you,” Swendsen said.

Shooters with hobbled guns can employ the service of a gunsmith certified out of the Pennsylvania gun school.

The Armory may host a shooting league with competition, Swendsen said. He said the privately held business can have weekend competitions with prize-money, or firearm giveaways.

The gun store and shooting range hours are not yet set in stone, Swendsen said, but customers can expect something like 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.

“We are just trying to have a nice place to do gun sports,” Swendsen said. “A place to get families shooting.”

The Armory’s permit is scheduled for a consent agenda hearing at the CBJ Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Oct. 9.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

 

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