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Bowling and Dining

A plan to put a bowling alley on the upper floor of the old Woolworth's building was temporarily derailed last month, while a measure to preserve the precarious balance between restaurant and retail outlets on the Third Street Promenade remained on track.

A September 21 Planning Commission hearing for the 15,000-square-foot bowling alley on the Third Street Promenade was delayed after officials worried that City and State regulations governing liquor licenses could bar minors from using the lanes.

The applicant is hoping for the type of license granted to restaurants, but City staff contends that the permit being sought is the kind issued to bars, which would prohibit persons under 21.

Before the commission can take up the project, new notices will have to be published restating the kind of license being sought. In the meantime, the projectís architect, David Forbes Hibbert, is going back to the drawing board for design modifications, including a full service kitchen to satisfy City Hall.

Since the idea was brought up early this year, City and Bayside officials have supported the proposed bowling alley, slated to go above Johnny Rockets restaurant. The alley includes 12 bowling lanes, a 250-square-foot bar and a 1,000 square foot lounge area.

ON SEPTEMBER 15, Bayside officials weighed in with ideas for a permanent measure to replace an interim ordinance that effectively places a moratorium on retail expansion on the Promenade. Approved by the City Council in late 2001, the ordinance limits the amount of retail conversion of existing restaurant space to 5 percent.

The stop-gap measure has worked out pretty well for everyone on the popular shopping strip except landlords with restaurants on their property, said Bayside Vice chair John Warfel. "People who already had a restaurant (on their property) could not lease out at higher rates to retail," said Warfel, who helped in the study that led to the interim ordinance.

The result is that little or no new space has been created for restaurants, Warfel added. He hoped for a permanent solution that will be more "even handed."

The interim ordinance has done a good job at keeping restaurants on the Promenade "but we still have incredible road blocks for restaurants coming in," Warfel said. "We're still missing that part of encouraging restaurants."

City officials will have to work fast. The ordinance was extended for the last time in July, and permanent regulations must be in place by March 2006, when the interim measure expires.

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