Alexander & Baldwin announced Friday that it will be exploring all its options for Pali Lanes, a past touchpoint of controversy in Kailua town.
The lease for the current bowling alley operators of Pali Lanes at 120 Hekili St. ends in late January 2020.
A&B said it is exploring ways to preserve the Pali Lanes building, keep bowling in Kailua and make the surrounding area a “vibrant community gathering place,” potentially with new uses and activities for local residents. That includes reaching out to other potential bowling operators, as well as considering complementary activities and uses, which could include retail.
At the same time, A&B said the current lessees will be offered a continuing lease, but did not disclose its terms.
“We’ve heard clearly from the community that it values the character and history of the Pali Lanes building, and that it wants to preserve the character of Kailua as much as possible,” said Chris Benjamin, A&B President and CEO in a news release. “At the same time, we’ve heard that enhanced walkability, safety and community amenities are desired, and that many want bowling to remain a part of Kailua. Our intention is to find a way to meet these varied goals in a viable and sustainable manner.”
Art Machado, one of the owners of the Pali Lanes bowling operation, said he is concerned because he is seeking a longer-term lease in order to move forward on renovation and repair plans. He was also seeking a commitment to a long-term lease with A&B, as well, so that he could honor contracts with the Special Olympics and various bowling leagues that plan their schedules for 36 to 48 weeks out.
At the moment, he has a leaky roof that needs repair, and which resulted in the closure of the snack shop since April.
As the manager of the Oahu Bowling Association, and with more than 45 years of experience running bowling alleys, he knows how to run a bowling business.
A&B, however, said given the long history of struggling bowling operations in the state, complementary uses are considered essential to the economic viability of the facility.
There are no set plans yet, according to A&B spokesman Darren Pai, but the company is exploring all options.
“When you look at bowling centers locally that have remained successful, they have strong complementary businesses,” said Pai. “There are a lot of business models for bowling. We understand there are a lot of options these days so we want to make sure we’ve looked into them and considered all the different possibilities.”
In January of last year, a community group called Our Kailua began gathering signatures for a petition seeking to save Pali Lanes from being redeveloped, a cause which gathered momentum and resulted in an extended lease for the bowling operation.
A&B, which owns most of the retail buildings in Kailua, said it has made a comprehensive effort to engage the community, and held hundreds of meetings with residents, community groups, businesses and other organizations over the past year and a half.
Last year, the company also commissioned a survey of nearly 16,000 households in Kailua.
The survey found that more than half, or 56%, of participating Kailua residents supported keeping Pali Lanes as is versus 35% that supported replacing the Pali Lanes structure and repurposing the area.
Last year, the bowling alley was also designated a historic place by a state review board as an example of midcentury Modern design.
A&B said it plans to create additional forums for Kailua residents to participate in planning discussions.
“We hope that the recent example of Lau Hala Shops and the just-announced refurbishment of Aikahi Park Shopping Center help illustrate how A&B listens to the community and uses that feedback to guide the investments we make,” said Benjamin in the news release. “We’re committed to finding community-enhancing solutions that address the desires of Kailua residents.”