Edmonds may lose bowling alley for Walgreens

EDMONDS — Robin Hood Lanes, one of a handful of bowling alleys left in Snohomish County and an institution in Edmonds for more than 40 years, may see its days numbered.

A San Francisco developer wants to raze the bowling alley at 9801 Edmonds Way and build a 14,490-square-foot Walgreens pharmacy and another commercial building. The news of the possible closure of Edmonds’ only bowling alley has fueled a wildfire of comments on blogs and social media.

“I grew up there,” said Jan Vance, the executive director of the Edmonds Chamber of Commerce. “I hate to see it go. It’s a good spot for kids and families and there are not many bowling alleys left,” she said referring to the closures of Leilani Lanes in north Seattle in 2005, and Sunset Bowl in Ballard in 2008.

“Business-wise, this is hard,” Vance said. “It is economic growth, but it is hard to lose a part of Edmonds’ history.”

John Gunther, who owns the building, and Mike Gubsch, who owns the business, want to continue running Robin Hood Lanes at its current site. The lease can be broken if the local family who owns the property decides to sell.

“Now we are just trying to figure out what is going on,” Gubsch said. “We have been negotiating and now what was nobody’s business has become everybody’s business.”

Robin Hood Lanes went through a facelift last summer with lanes refurbished and new scoreboards installed.

Seven Hills Properties submitted plans to the city last week for the Walgreens pharmacy with one drive-through lane plus a second 3,373-square-foot building with three drive-through lanes as a possible bank. The city’s approval process of the plan could take up to six months.

If approved, construction could start as early as fall, with Walgreens opening in February 2013, according to Tom Rocca of Seven Hills Properties.

Edmonds has been courting Walgreens for several years, said Stephan Clifton, economic development director for the city. The original recruitment was for a smaller location downtown.

Walgreens has had its eye on Edmonds for a number of years, Rocca said. The demographics of the city and the nearby 100th Ave. W. intersection with two grocery stores make the Edmonds Way location ideal.

For Edmonds resident Wayne Purser, the news of Robin Hood Lanes’ possible closure is disappointing.

Purser coaches bowling at Robin Hood Lanes for 80 to 100 kids who range in age from 3 to 18. As someone who works in real estate, he said he understands the reasons for the sale. He fears that some of those kids just won’t make the trip to Lynnwood, Shoreline, Kenmore or Everett to bowl.

“Walgreens is not the bad boy here,” he said. “It’s about dollars and cents but where does everybody go? Anytime these kids, their families or league bowlers leave town for another venue they will spend money elsewhere.”

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