Bowling facility owners eye Belfast for new location

By Ben Holbrook | Jul 30, 2013

A bowling alley may return to Belfast with the purchase of the former Jed's Restaurant building.

City Planner Wayne Marshall said the owners of Waldoboro-based ALLPLaY Family Entertainment Center, Donald and Kelly Benson, are looking to purchase the former restaurant building, located on Searsport Avenue, and would renovate the space to be comparable to their bowling facility in Waldoboro.

The building would house eight lanes of candle pin bowling, a video arcade, pool tables, a snack bar and event rooms, according to the application filed with the planning board.

Marshall said during the July 10 meeting the Benson's had considered purchasing the former Harborside Graphics building, which was located in the Belfast Industrial Park, about three years ago.

In order to open a bowling facility in the Industrial Park a zoning change was required because the area was zoned for commercial use and not recreational activities.

The former Jed's Restaurant property is located in the Searsport Avenue Waterfront zoning district, which allows for indoor recreational activities and facilities as a permitted use.

Even though an application was not being considered during the July 10 meeting for the bowling alley, members of the board questioned how much parking would be available. Marshall said there would be 26 paved parking spaces with overflow parking available in a gravel lot.

Kelly said she and her husband have until Sept. 1 to close on the building, which they are looking to purchase for $205,000.

Once work gets underway, Kelly said they are hoping to have the facility open by January 2014. Kelly said the January opening may be more of a "soft opening" in case some of the facility's amenities are not finished at that time.

The Benson's are in their fourth year of operating their Waldoboro facility, which will remain open in addition to the Belfast location. Kelly said she and Donald would potentially hire between three and five people to staff the Belfast facility.

Kelly said she and her husband are excited to be bringing their business to the city, noting that Belfast is growing quickly and needs activities for kids and families.

Prior to the Benson's interest in opening their facility,there was a bowling facility located in the city on lower Main Street in the 1950's and 1960's, Marshall said during a telephone interview Thursday, July 25. It wasn't until 2004 that a proposal to bring a bowling facility back to the city was presented to the planning board. The facility would have been located behind the welcome center on Route 1 on the East Side. However, Marshall said the owner of the property, Stephen P. Gardner, decided not to move forward with the facility after a permit was granted and then appealed by a neighbor.

The former Jed's Restaurant building has been vacant for about 7 years, Marshall said. The property is owned by Kenneth Wentworth who bought the building in 2009, according to previously published reports.

A public hearing on the application scheduled for Wednesday, July 24, was postponed to Wednesday, July 31.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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Ben Holbrook
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Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.

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