Nine months after the pandemic’s economic impact permanently shuttered legendary local bowling alley Dart Bowl with more than 60 years of business under its belt, its owners are seeking to develop an apartment complex atop the 4.14-acre property at 5700 Grover Avenue in the Brentwood neighborhood of North Central Austin — which should presumably help the family partnership behind the alley, also behind Highland Lanes and Westgate Lanes elsewhere in Austin, recoup some of its losses and keep these remaining businesses open, though we’ll still miss the enchiladas.
An open zoning case for the bowling alley assembly, which contains the large tract at 5700 Grover Avenue and a small adjacent property at 5612 Roosevelt Avenue, was initiated earlier this year by local law firm Smith Robertson on behalf of Dart Bowl co-owner John P. Donovan, who is listed as president of Family Sports Inc. — that’s the corporation that owns the Dart Bowl property, which includes members of the Ray and Peterson families comprising the partnership behind the facility since the 1960s.
The case, which is still currently in review with the city, would rezone the Dart Bowl assembly to MF-6-CO-NP, a high-density multifamily category. The project planned for this site described in the rezoning application would bring an apartment structure rising three and four floors on various parts of the site with an estimated 300 units.
The developer behind the proposal is rumored by industry sources to be local multifamily firm Oden Hughes, with attorney David Hartman of Smith Robertson listed as the property owners’ representative — Hartman also represented Ledcor Properties in its development of the Pearl Apartments at the former Honda dealership next door to the Dart Bowl site. The unit mix of the project is unknown, but these documents indicate its residences will range in size from 540 to 1,425 square feet.
But that’s not the only Austin institution shuttered by the pandemic and now pondering significant redevelopment — a site plan currently in review with the city from local developers Journeyman Group would raise a mixed-use project containing residential, office, and retail components at the site of the former Threadgill’s Old No. 1 restaurant at 6416 North Lamar Boulevard, which closed approximately a year ago after years of declining business that claimed the Riverside Drive location of the restaurant back in 2018. Owner Eddie Wilson sold the 0.94-acre property to a holding company connected with Journeyman last year — 2020 tax assessments list a value of more than $3.5 million, but we’ll guess it sold for a bit more.
The filling station opened by Kenneth Threadgill in 1933 that eventually became the restaurant and music venue celebrated as a local landmark for generations of Austinites has received countless adaptations and renovations over the last near-century, and it will be up to the city’s Historic Landmark Commission to determine if any of the heavily-modified structure is fit for preservation — a recent briefing by the developers to the commission’s Architectural Review Committee didn’t contain any further details of the proposed development, but did offer a glimpse inside at the current state of the building, which after the restaurant’s closure was stripped of nearly all interior detail including its famous stage:
No further information about development timelines or other details of the proposed buildings is available for either site, but we presume both will be closely scrutinized by Austinites missing their previous occupants. Though neither project is directly responsible for the closure of these legendary businesses, and could in fact ensure the financial security of their former operators, the specific loss they remind us of is something a lot of Austinites take to heart. Just a thought for the Dart Bowl folks — can you start doing those enchiladas at Highland Lanes?