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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 6, 2006

Former Bowl-O-Drome site up for rent

By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is seeking a new lessee for the site of the former Bowl-O-Drome at 820 Isenberg Street. The agency is required to collect at least $626,000 a year in rent.

JOAQUIN SIOPACK | The Honolulu Advertiser

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A state agency is renewing an effort to find a developer or tenant to make better commercial use of the former Stadium Bowl-O-Drome property in Mo'ili'ili.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, which owns the site, yesterday issued a notice seeking a new lessee for the 1.9-acre Isenberg Street property, which ceased being used as a bowling alley in May 2004.

A towing company yard occupies the large lot next to the empty bowling center, but Hawaiian Home Lands for several years has sought to lease the site to someone for development as a "highest and best use" that maximizes rental revenue to the agency providing homesteads for Native Hawaiians.

Residents in the neighborhood have complained about the use of the property as a tow yard and hope state officials find a new tenant more suitable for the neighborhood.

"I'd like something the people can use," said Manny Paez, a Lime Street resident who used to take his children to the bowling alley to play video games, bowl and sometimes eat in its restaurant. "Now, cannot play. My kids not happy."

The department said the property's use must be compatible with the aesthetic character of the surrounding neighborhood which contains mostly multi-family homes but also businesses including a shave-ice store, auto painting shop, restaurant and bank and not create a significant negative community impact. Residential use is not permitted.

The department made a similar effort to reuse the site in 2002, and received initial interest from an automobile dealership, Down To Earth Natural Foods, a retail public storage facility and a Native Hawaiian medical research facility.

Lloyd Yonenaka, department spokesman, said the agency ended up selecting a bid from phone company Verizon, but that negotiations failed to result in a lease agreement.

Anthony Lee, a resident of the Parkside Tower condominium overlooking the Bowl-O-Drome property, said he liked the idea of Down To Earth moving its natural foods store closer to where he lives. But he opposed uses such as a Verizon yard or car dealership.

Lee said he wouldn't mind another bowling alley like Bowl-O-Drome, which he recalled patronizing as a high school student in the 1980s. "That was a good place," he said.

Stadium Bowl-O-Drome was built in 1955 next to the old Honolulu Stadium. The stadium was torn down in 1976 and replaced by a park.

Hawaiian Home Lands acquired the land under the Bowl-O-Drome in 1995 as part of a land-use settlement with the state. On New Year's Eve 1999, the longtime owners of the bowling complex shuttered the business.

Then in May 2000, another operator spruced up the building and reopened as University Bowl-O-Drome on a month-to-month lease before closing in May 2004.

Art Machado, executive director of the O'ahu Bowling Association, said the most recent Bowl-O-Drome operator made money but couldn't secure a long-term lease that would have attracted bowling leagues back to the property and increased business.

Hawaiian Home Lands has been on a mission to maximize revenues from its commercial land to help the agency become financially self-sufficient and better support Native Hawaiian programs.

"Our strategic plan calls for revenues from our commercial properties to fund our housing developments, and without it, we would be limited in our offer of homeownership to our beneficiaries," Micah Kane, chairman of the Hawaiian Homes Commission, said in a statement.

Yonenaka said the agency is required to earn an initial minimum rent of $626,000 a year from the Bowl-O-Drome based on property value, which he said is significantly more rent than bowling alley operators paid.

The department is offering to lease the property for 25 to 65 years, and expects to select the most attractive proposal from submissions by June 9. For more information, including detailed lease terms and whom to contact, see www.hawaii.gov/dhhl/commercial. Or call 586-3840.

Reach Andrew Gomes at agomes@honoluluadvertiser.com.