Gun range to fill vacant Hecker lot in Oak Park Heights

This artist's rendering shows the planned Minnesota Shooting Academy expected to open next year at the former Denny Hecker dealership in Oak Park Heights. (Image taken from council packet)

This artist’s rendering shows the planned Minnesota Shooting Academy expected to open next year at the former Denny Hecker dealership in Oak Park Heights. (Image taken from council packet)

A gun range, retail space and Airsoft practice facility will replace the abandoned Denny Hecker Ford dealership at the southeast corner of Highway 36 and Stillwater Boulevard in Oak Park Heights.

Minnesota Outdoor Shooting Sports hopes to open the Minnesota Shooting Academy on the site by July 1 next year. The city council approved the site plan review and variance to allow a 40-foot freestanding sign Oct. 22.

The 56,000 square-foot facility will be modified to include two gun range areas, a small gym and lounge, retail space and a small cafe.

“It’s a family destination space,” said Barry Schalkle, president of Minnesota Outdoor Shooting Sports.

Focused on education, the facility will offer training classes to the public.

The entire project, including the retail area, will cater specifically to the shooting sports community. The retail space won’t be a general sporting goods shop.

Minnesota Outdoor Shooting Sports has not opened any similar facilities, but Schalkle said the demand exists.

“There’s a huge need for education and for a range practice area on the east side of the (Mississippi) river,” Schalkle said. “We’re excited to be in the Stillwater area.”

Although the exterior of the building will remain mostly intact, City Planner Scott Richards said the developer intends to update the color scheme and add green space to the site.

The planning commission signed off on the plans Oct. 10.

The council approved the plans unanimously.

“That’s a good use for that property,” Councilmember Mark Swenson said.

Contact Jonathan Young at jonathan.young@ecm-inc.com

up arrow