The building formerly home to longtime Austin landmark Dart Bowl received the green light for demolition this week from the city’s Historic Landmark Commission, with the former bowling alley at 5700 Grover Avenue to be replaced by a 247-unit apartment project from developers OHT Partners — but recent city filings indicate the family partnership behind Dart Bowl’s legendary 60-year run also plans to redevelop another of its local properties with housing in the near future.
A vertical mixed-use rezoning application headed for the Planning Commission next week with the support of city staff describes a 300-unit residential development planned at the site of Highland Lanes at 8909 Burnet Road, a 2.5-acre property located at the corner of Burnet Road and U.S. 183 that’s hosted the bowling alley since 1976. This would leave Westgate Lanes in South Austin as the only remaining bowling facility operated by the Donovan family group that owns all three properties.
While the developers behind the plan are currently unknown, the rezoning application filed by local land use law firm Armbrust & Brown describes the project as a mixed-use building containing 4,000 square feet of commercial space alongside its apartments. Approximately 12 percent of the units would be income restricted at 60 percent of the region’s Median Family Income due to the requirements of the city’s VMU zoning — that’s 36 residences affordable to individuals earning no more than $46,380 yearly or a family of four with a yearly income of $66,180 or less.
While it’s obviously sad to see another Austin icon seemingly choosing retirement, developing such large properties in the city’s still-hot housing market is bound to ensure financial security for the families behind these ventures, which is really the most important thing — and investing in apartments is likely much more reliable than bowling profits, with the alley’s owners previously noting drastically increased economic hardship for their operations during the pandemic. It’s the same story all over Austin, and the best you can do is support the small businesses you love and accept the change with grace if the owners finally decide to throw in the towel.