The efforts to keep a longtime bowling alley open next year may have suffered a serious setback as local activists were notified about the hefty price tag it would take to lease the facility from Pima County.
The group had already begun fundraising efforts this month after the county, which purchased the property earlier this year, indicated it would be willing to consider leasing Golden Pin Lanes, 1010 W. Miracle Mile, near North Fairview Avenue.
The group’s efforts to possibly lease the bowling alley started before county officials estimated how much it would cost to continue leasing facilities for county programs that are expected to be relocated to a new facility that would be built where the bowling alley stands.
The figure for the first year of lease payments? At least $127,567. In the following years, those lease payments would continue to climb, hitting nearly $750,000 by 2024.
“The cost of the proposed annual lease rate has been developed to cover the amount required to continue leases that would otherwise end or be terminated when the program relocates,” wrote Chief Deputy County Administrator Jan Lesher to the group last week.
Lesher also noted that the property is unlikely to contain some key equipment, as the former owner of the property is expected to remove the bowling lanes and related equipment before the county takes over the property.
Even if the group can afford to lease the facility and can persuade the former owner to sell or lease the related equipment, the proposal offered by the county would only last for five years.
The county is not interested in leasing Golden Pin Lanes for more than five years, Lesher indicated in her letter.
The group has until March 18 to notify the county whether it is willing to lease the property.
The county has also told the group that it will also consider proposals to sell the facility, but only if the buyer offers at least $2.85 million — what the county paid for the property earlier this year.
The county plans on spending roughly $4 million to renovate the site, relocating a county health clinic, adult probation office, the Women, Infants and Children program office and a Juvenile Court office at the site.
Area resident Sandra Wong said the lease terms offered by the county were reasonable in the first two years, but not sustainable in the following years.
She is optimistic there is room for negotiations with the county over the lease terms, but concedes that the group still needs to work with the former owner to either lease or purchase the bowling equipment and the lanes.
Wong said that once local residents can finalize a price, it should be easier to find groups to either locate a buyer for the property or someone to lease Golden Pin Lanes long-term.
Felicia Chew, a former Tucson City Council candidate who has spearheaded efforts to save the bowling alley, also believes there are still options available.
She suggested that locals could work with nonprofit like the Boys and Girls Club.