MANATEE -- An indoor gun range and retail shop being built on University Parkway by the biggest firearms retailer in Florida is nearing completion.
Apopka-based Shoot Straight is building the 16,600-square-foot range at 2335 University Parkway. The location will give the eight-store chain its first location between Clearwater and Fort Myers. It is expected to open this summer.
The new Shoot Straight will include 24 shooting lanes and a gun and ammunition retail store. The business will provide firearms training onsite at its range and in a classroom inside the building.
A second retail building is also expected to be built on the property.
The construction project has been in process for more than a year. Shoot Straight purchased the property for $1.5 million in January 2015. Manatee County approved the project site plan a month later. Construction started last September. The building is expected to be complete by June.
General contractor Birchmier Construction of Maitland is building the gun range to be both bullet- and sound-proof. Building plans show that the range's exterior walls are constructed of 8-inch, concrete-filled cement block. The roof of the building is also made of concrete.
Randy Birchmier, president of Birchmier construction, has characterized the shooting range as "a higher-end experience."
According to Manatee County, the value of the project is about $863,000. A Birchmier representative said the construction budget is higher than that, but he declined to give an exact amount.
The gun range faces north, toward the nearby Soleil East housing subdivision being built by D.R. Horton.
Founded in 1979, Shoot Straight claims to be among the top 1 percent of firearms dealers in the United States.
Khaled Akkawi, Shoot Straight's owner, did not respond to a request to comment on his company's Manatee County location.
Status Update, by business reporter Matt M. Johnson, is a regular look at the progress of construction projects throughout Manatee County. Follow Johnson on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.