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Sept. 19, 2021

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Crosley Lanes to be sold, Vancouver site to become apartments

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:
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Allen’s Crosley Lanes, the 65-year-old bowling center in Vancouver’s Hudson’s Bay neighborhood, is heading for an upcoming — though not quite imminent — closure.

Co-owner Don Allen said he and his wife, Rachel Allen, have decided to retire, reviving an earlier plan that the two had pursued to sell the bowling alley property for redevelopment. The Allens have owned the bowling center since 1987, and Don Allen described the decision to close as a painful one.

“It’s definitely going to be a sad day when it closes,” he said.

The buyer’s plan for the property calls for the bowling alley at 2400 E. Evergreen Blvd. to be replaced with a five-story, 270-unit apartment complex.

Starts and stops

The Allens initially had a buyer lined up in late 2019 and were on the verge of closing the sale when the city of Vancouver announced that it had instituted a temporary moratorium on new development in the area as it worked to draft new design standards for the Evergreen and Grand commercial corridors.

The announcement derailed the deal and made it unlikely that the couple would be able to sell the property in the immediate future, Don Allen said, so they decided to stick with the bowling business, pull the property back off the market and develop a plan to remodel it.

The remodeling plan also ended up being derailed at the last second, this time by the COVID-19 pandemic. Washington’s lockdown measures shuttered the bowling alley for six months starting in March 2020, just when the Allens were about to secure a loan for the project.

Crosley Lanes was able to briefly reopen in the fall, only to be shuttered again about six weeks later in a renewed lockdown, this time until February. It’s been an incredibly challenging year for the business, Allen said, but in the meantime, the city finished its new guidelines and lifted the development moratorium, making the idea of selling the property viable again.

Portland-based developer Phil Morford approached the couple with a purchase offer in April, according to Allen, and they decided to take him up on it.

The Allens are opting to close the business rather than move it because it would very costly to build a new facility, Don Allen said, especially with the pandemic still eating into the bowling alley’s customer traffic. Even with the social distancing restrictions lifted, the bowling alley is only bringing in about half of its traditional revenue, he said.

The other reason for the closure: Last year’s six-month lockdown served as confirmation for Don and Rachel Allen that they were ready for retirement.

“We discovered we enjoy not working,” he said.

The sale isn’t closed yet, Allen said, and after the near-miss of the 2019 sale attempt — plus an earlier attempt to sell the business to Bowlmor AMF, which also fell through late in the game — he’s hesitant to take anything for granted. Still, he said, the couple accepted Morford’s offer in part because of the developer’s strong reputation, so he’s optimistic that this time things will work out.

Even if everything comes together as planned, he said, the property won’t officially change hands until May of next year — meaning the alley will still be open for another full fall season for its bowling leagues.

Apartment plan

Morford submitted a preliminary application to the city earlier this month outlining his plan for an apartment complex at the site. He described the project as being at a very early stage of development, with some details still subject to change based on feedback during the city’s approval process.

The pre-application packet narrative describes a U-shaped building with a mix of studio and one-, two- and three-bedroom units laid out with about 60 units per floor, plus resident amenity space, leasing offices, a fitness room and storage lockers on the ground floor.

The second level would include additional resident amenity space and an elevated outdoor deck common area in the center of the building so that interior-facing units would overlook the deck rather than the parking lot below it.

The project would feature 270 parking spaces including a surface lot, “tuck-under” spaces below parts of the building and an additional central parking area beneath the deck. The site would be accessed from driveways on Evergreen Boulevard and X Street.

The application was submitted by Portland-based YBA Architects. A pre-application conference with the city has been scheduled for 9 a.m. July 22.

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