Owners say Greenway Bowling Center, destroyed by fire, won't be rebuilt

May 27, 1994|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writer

The Greenway Bowling Center survived nearly 40 years of economic ups and downs until it burned to the ground in October.

This week, owners of the 24-lane duckpin house decided they will not rebuild. It was not an easy decision.

"If we made this decision on whether to rebuild with our heart, then we would rebuild," Jacob Davis, one of the owners, said yesterday. "Our minds won over our hearts."

The center near Crain Highway and Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard was a Glen Burnie landmark, a meeting place and home to numerous bowling leagues. "Our children bowled there," Alfred Lipin, a former state senator who represented Glen Burnie, said shortly after the fire. "It's been a center of activity that brought a lot of people into Glen Burnie."

All that ended Oct. 22, when more than 2,000 people gathered to watch as flames devoured the center. Anne Arundel County fire officials blamed the five-alarm blaze on an electrical problem. There were no serious injuries.

Mr. Davis, who said the family had casualty insurance on the building, nevertheless said there were two main reasons not to restart the business.

First, he said, winter leagues, which begin just after Labor Day, make commitments to bowling alleys in the spring. At the earliest, it would take at least eight months to rebuild Greenway. By then, the center probably would lose much of this winter's leagues on top of the 1993-1994 league season.

Also, leagues have found new homes that would entice them to stay, making it difficult for Greenway to recapture its former share of the market. And, people have gotten used to going elsewhere.

Second, he said, the owners could not face starting from scratch.

"All of the owners of this business are in their 50s and 60s. It's almost like starting all over again," said Mr. Davis. "It's one thing to start all over again when you are 30. When you are 60, it is a different thing."

The property will not be listed with a real estate broker. Mr. Davis said the family would consider offers for a business on the site.

Meanwhile, the owners will clear the rest of the rubble from the property, located at the edge of the Glen Burnie Urban Renewal District.

The county had offered to work with the family to obtain permits and loans to rebuild. Bowling lanes cost about $100,000 apiece, duckpin lanes somewhat less.

And, there was community support for a reopening. More than 1,000 wrote letters urging the family to rebuild.

"There are many people who are going to be very sad that it is not going to be rebuilt," said Muriel Carter, former Glen Burnie Improvement Association president, who grew up in Glen Burnie.

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