Hourglass developer National Real Estate is under contract to buy the shuttered Colonial Lanes bowling alley — at least half of what’s left of it that is.
The current owners, Winter Park-based Titan Properties, bought the 2.47-acre property on the northwest corner of Primrose Drive and Livingston Street in 2018 for $2.1 million.
Titan Properties then split and replatted the property into two parcels at 400 N. Primrose Dr. and 408 N Primrose Dr., the latter of which it sold for $1 million to Milk District Investments LLC last year. That parcel is currently home to a recently completed three-story self-storage building.
National Real Estate owner Giovanni Fernandez said the owner managed to maintain half of Orlando’s Colonial Lanes bowling alley, which resides on the leftover roughly 1-acre property just east of the storage facility.
“There was 32 lanes, now there’s 16,” Fernandez said. The intact half of the building kept some of the more memorable features, like the sunken bar area, restaurant and kitchen area and front doors.
The Daily City was first to report that National Real Estate was under contract to purchase the property.
Fernandez told GrowthSpotter he intends to renovate and restore what’s remaining of the bowling alley to what it looked like in its heyday.
Built in 1959, Colonial Lanes grew a reputation for hosting popular events such as a gay bowling league and state high school championships. According to published reports, regulars and neighborhood residents were saddened to see it close after a nearly six-decade run.
“I think it was great of [Titan Properties] to get creative and chop the back half,” Fernandez said. “It shows they were really making sure that things were getting done for the best of the community.”
Without disclosing the price, Fernandez said the firm intends to close on the property by the first quarter of next year.
What comes next, he adds, is an extensive adaptive reuse project that aims to bring the old bowling alley and restaurant space into the 21st century, while still paying homage to its original architecture and retro designs.
“Here’s going to be the tricky part: We’re going to have to change a majority of the things that people would not notice,” Fernandez said. “We are uplifting the quality of the experience by upgrading all the electrical utilities, mechanical systems and kitchen frameworks.”
The idea is to freshen up the vibe of Colonial Lanes, so people have a space to lounge and have a drink, hangout with their families or coworkers, and host personal events," Fernandez said.
In the past couple of years, he and his wife Elise Sabatino have bought and restored more than a dozen commercial buildings near the intersection of Curry Ford Road and Bumby Avenue, establishing the “Hourglass District” with plans to house local restaurants and shops.
In Orlando’s Milk District, the couple also owns close to a full block on Robinson Street.
“Community members know these locations and have a lot of pride in them," Fernandez said. “They don’t want to see them change in a bad way. At the same, there’s this new population coming in and they want to see great night life and local businesses during the day... What we try to do is marry those two things.”
The announcement of the reopening of Colonial Lanes may conflict with plans for another bowling venue nearby.
In August, Unicorp National Development CEO Chuck Whittall told GrowthSpotter a bowling alley with a luxury dine-in movie theater above it fit in line with plans for the $1 billion Orlando Fashion Square redevelopment project. During the previous interview, Whittall said plans lean heavily on residential uses to activate the new open-air retail center.
The former bowling alley at Fashion Square, StrikeOuts Bowling and Entertainment Center, closed in 2017.