Three businessmen hope to roll a strike with a new downtown Charleston entertainment venue and restaurant.
Local entrepreneur David Crowley and brothers Chris and Jimmy Poole of North Carolina plan to turn a former liquor distribution warehouse on Columbus Street into a bowling alley that offers food and drinks.
The Alley, which takes the name of a similar venture the business partners run in Raleigh, could open by early fall in a 14,100-square-foot, block-long building between a Piggly Wiggly supermarket and a U-Haul store, Crowley said.
The Alley will be open for lunch and dinner in the front of the building, will offer outdoor dining and include eight bowling lanes in the rear.
"We are excited to bring an affordable entertainment venue to downtown Charleston that will cater to all ages," Crowley said.
The long-vacant building has a 25-foot ceiling with exposed steel beams.
It will maintain exposed bricks in the rear, where bowlers will congregate.
"The interior of the building was a huge decisive factor," Crowley said. "We will not alter the interior of the building."
The three men have been working on the project for more than a year.
"We wanted to be on the peninsula and downtown," Crowley said. "We like that the city is expanding its downtown area north. We think it's a new area that will cultivate and grow."
While the recession has chilled many redevelopment plans for the Upper King Street and Upper Meeting Street corridors, investors are starting to resurface. For instance, Charleston-based Greystar Real Estate Partners has filed plans to build about 200 apartments at 441 Meeting on part of a site known as Midtown. Nearby, Tara Group of Charlotte has resurrected its proposal to build a five-story hotel at Meeting and Wolfe streets on land it purchased in 2006 for $2.5 million.
The Alley plans to partner with a reputable restaurant group in the city, but Crowley said he was not ready to identify the company. He also declined to give the dollar investment for the project, saying more specifics will be disclosed as the project gears up, most likely by midspring.
"We are finalizing a number of different contracts now," Crowley said.
Upfitting the building for a restaurant, bar and bowling alley probably will take between three and five months, he said.
The operators hope to offer a venue for birthday parties, corporate events and fundraisers, much like their flagship business in North Carolina.
As for parking, Crowley said they have worked out a cooperative agreement with nearby businesses for 72 spaces.
Arnold Properties of Columbia owns the building. Crowley and his partners will lease it under a new limited liability corporation yet to be formed.
They already operate under West End Bowl LLC in North Carolina. Western Lanes was the name of the 50-year-old bowling alley in Raleigh before they bought the 24-lane center just over two years ago, changed the name and upgraded it.
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