WATERLOO — Months of hard work to save a beloved historic bowling alley has come to an abrupt end.
Along husband Tom Clayfield and daughter Pamela Clayfield, the family planned to buy the business from owners Dave and Gerry Roeder.
The 10-year lease for alley ran out at the end of May and owner of the property, Brad Marsland, plans to demolish the building to make way a seven-storey apartment building with three levels of underground parking.
In buying Waterloo Bowling Lanes, the Clayfields intended to move the business to a new location within the city, taking as much equipment as they could with them.
But the prospective location fell through.
“When you’re looking for 15,000-plus square feet in a city the size of Waterloo it proved to be difficult,” Pamela said.
A Conestogo Road building the family ultimately set their hopes on was recently discovered not to have enough parking spots to meet city regulations and appeals cannot be made quickly enough.
Although the problem was clear, it was hard news to take.
“I almost cried,” Pamela said.
Pamela added that she and her brother had already designed a new logo for the business anticipating they would successfully move.
No other buildings with the right zoning and enough space to accommodate 16 bowling lanes — plus 64 parking spaces — have been found.
And now time has run out.
The current building on Princess Street is set to be demolished in July, meaning the Roeders need to liquidate the business if the Clayfields don’t take it over.
They can’t buy the business without a new location to move it to.
“If we had another six to 12 months, I think it would have been doable,” Pamela said.
While the situation has been heartbreaking to the Clayfield family, they haven’t given up hope to replace the city’s only bowling alley.
Pamela said they plan to regroup in August and begin exploring other ways to start a bowling alley. The added challenge will now be financing extra costs for new equipment — such as pin setters that run at $2,000 for each lane — they would have otherwise reused.
“We’ve crashed emotionally, so it’s time to take a step back,” Pamela said. “We’ll see if we can start the process over and maybe we’ll have a season for 2014.”
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