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Posted on Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 5:57 a.m.

End of an era: Ypsi-Arbor Lanes bowling alley on Washtenaw will close May 1

By Paula Gardner

Ypsilanti will lose its only bowling center when Ypsi-Arbor Lanes closes by May 1.

The building has hosted a bowling alley for decades. The Ypsi-Arbor Lanes website pegs its start at 1971. But the distinctive sign out front has been a Washtenaw Avenue landmark at the western edge of Ypsilanti Township since at least 1964.

ypsiarborbowl.jpg files

The bowling alley fits the industry standard: 40 lanes (enough for a good-sized league), a lounge, and a half-dozen billiards tables.

The operator is Kenneth Kubit, and the business based in Livonia, according to state filings.

Ray Bonkowski, center manager for the bowling alley, said a letter to customers read, “We have become a byproduct of tough economic times.”

Bonkowski referred other questions about the closing to Kubit, who has not yet returned calls from Bonkowski also said that all of the bowling equipment will be removed from the building when the business closes.

The property is owned by Frankel Associates, based in Troy, and it’s registered to Samuel Frankel. A representative at that office said the company does not comment for media reports, so there’s no indication of what’s next for the property.

The building had an assessed value of $604,500 in 2010, down from $960,500 a year earlier. That makes its estimated market value $1.2 million, based on 2010 assessments.

It’s also next door to a former Dairy Mart that the township wants redeveloped after years of stalled attempts — and across Washtenaw Avenue from a long-closed Farmer Jack.

Meanwhile, all league customers have been informed of the pending closure, Bonkowski said. Many people are not happy about it, he added.

“We’ve been getting a lot of phone calls,” Bonkowski said. “They’re saying Ypsilanti deserves a bowling alley.”

Several bowling allies exist in nearby communities, including Colonial Lanes in Ann Arbor, Bel-Mark Lanes in Scio Township, Chelsea Lanes in Chelsea and Maplewood Lanes in Saline.

Paula Gardner is Business News Director of Contact her at 734-623-2586 or by email. Sign up for the weekly Business Review newsletter, distributed every Thursday, here.



Wed, Apr 13, 2011 : 1:15 p.m.

It's a sad day when the old East Ann Arbor/Ypsi-Ann corridor loses another mainstay. There's not much along that strip that's recognizable to an old timer. I'm going to remove that sign and install it in my front yard!

Gen Pop

Sat, Feb 19, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

I live off of Golfside in the Aspen Chase apartment complex and I gotta say between this closing, the shack that was a Dairy Mart remaining and the vacant Farmer Jacks still looming, this area is racking up eyesores by the minute. And no, I don't think more friggin pizza places are gonna improve anything in the long-term. There needs to be a community-driven effort between local government and concerned, informed citizens on constructive uses for these properties that will not only benefit the surrounding areas financially, but also socially. God forbid we take the time to figure out how to turn a former bowling alley into a community center that provides day-care for children, recreational alternatives for teens and job training for adults. And oh yeah, save the sign. Its too cool to destroy over this.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 12:07 p.m.

The sign on Packard road for that one place across from Brockman was slated to be razed and they won due to a huge campaign and petition that went out to save that sign. Same for this one. The closing does not surprise me because every time I drive by that place is dead. I also think bowling is gone by the era thing as well. Good luck to the area. K Mart is the only thing in that area that is left to anchor anything as in business. In this economy it is going to be tough to attract anything. Good luck to Happy putting a pizza station there. Not sure if that will fly either.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 6:53 a.m.

I learned how to bowl there when I was 6 or 7 back in the day...then a trip across the street to the Wayside theater. Too bad they couldn't maintain the inside. Last time I went in to shoot a few games of pool, the tables were in horrid condition, torn felt, way off balance, nothing that better management couldn't have fixed. But that sign! Now that's a landmark I will miss. I recently moved back nearby and at night from a certain angle in my yard I see the top of it and reminders of my youth. How very sad, I hope someone can make something good out of this property, not demolish the sign, and hopefully not let it sit vacant for squatters or arsonists. I wish I had the kind of money to revamp the building. Would love to see it managed right!


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 12:58 p.m.

I too use to bowl on Saturdays on a junior league when I was in 6th grade and then we would go over the Wayside to see a Disney movie. Great times. RIP Ypsi-Arbor Bowl.


Fri, Feb 18, 2011 : 6:44 a.m.

two thoughts first like Borders if you don't make money you bite the dust second the owners may have other plans in mind.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 10:36 p.m.

Ypsi-Arbor was a dump even when it was "new." The lanes were usually in terrible shape, with broken boards and not enough foundation underneath, often causing a "springboard effect" that was quite amusing as long as it happened to someone else. It was also dingy and there was never enough light there. It's as if the management and owners were always so concerned about nickeling and diming costs that they were never able to really put out a decent product. While I'm sure the few "regulars" they still had will miss the old dump, it's really much better for the sport if it is torn down and the "highest and best use" of the property is determined and executed. It was a great location and really could have been a great center, too, but it was mismanaged from day one. It was rumored back in the day that Roger Robinson, who owned the Ypsi-Ann Drive In Theater back then and had successful centers in the north suburbs of Detroit, was going to build a center on this site but was given an old-time "offer he couldn't refuse" by people who were "connected," decided he wanted to live a long, full life, and changed his plans. Ah, the good old days.....

Jay Thomas

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

I'm looking forward to the new Asian restaurant that will replace it. :|


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 7:28 p.m.

Can't forget Washtenaw Lanes


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 6:50 p.m.

Maybe needs to have a forum called Ann Arbor old timers.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 6:45 p.m.

That's right I forgot about the one across from City Hall. That was Huron Lanes. Maybe David and I are the only ones old enough to remember from experience.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 5:15 p.m.

The business is probably closing due to the many repair dollars put into the sign over the decades. That sign is usually only half lit up from what I remember over the years. In all seriousness, it has been an iconic business for the community and I wish the owners well.

Edward Vielmetti

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 4:19 p.m.

@jcj - Huron Lanes was at 320/322 E Huron; I see it in directories as late as 1968. Twentieth Century Bowling was West Huron between Ashley and First. I don't have photos (interior or exterior) of either handy.

David Briegel

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 4:42 p.m.

Twentieth Century also had the Century Lounge night club! Huron Lanes was btwn 5th and Div.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 3:16 p.m.

Was the bowling alley that used to be on Huron between Ashley & 1st called Huron Lanes? When did they close?

Rob Logan

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 3:11 p.m.

I hope they keep the sign lit on dark nights as a beacon of truth for stalwart travelers. very iconic


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

How do we organize a "Save the Sign" movement?


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 2:48 a.m.

Go make them an offer. What's the worst they can do?


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.

Turn it back into farmland and allow citizens to grow organic crops.

Christopher LeClair

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 9:23 p.m.



Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 2:34 p.m.

That's where I bowled in the early 70's. Prety sure those lanes were already there when I moved to Ann Arbor in 1968. That entire intersection now looks like a gigantic empty parking lot bisected by two busy roads. There's plenty of excess retail up and down Washtenaw. New developments proposed for Georgetown Mall and the corner of Platt and Washtenaw. Maybe time to think about giving some of the empty retail back to mother nature. This is where political leadership would ordinarily step forward. There's only so much new a place can support.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

It's really sad to hear. I used to bowl there as a kid, when I lived in the apartments right behind there. On saturdays my sister and I would walk to bowl and play video games. I think they should level the building and open a new one that offers more entertainment such as bumper cars or laser tag.

Duane Collicott

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

That sign needs to go to Henry Ford Museum.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 1:15 p.m.

This is unfortunate and is going to add to the urban blight apparent at the intersection of Washtenaw and Golfside As mentioned in the article, several closed businesses, lack of upkeep, etc. Another sorry victim of the poor economy.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 2:57 p.m.

I agree. Another empty building right there... so sad.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 12:42 p.m.

It's ridiculous what they charge to bowl nowadays. What ever happened to a buck or two a game?

John B.

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 9:46 p.m.

You know, you used to be able to get a house for a nickel. And it was a good house, too, not like those cheaply-made ones they slap together nowadays! ;-)

Steve Hendel

Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 4:58 p.m.

What happned to the dime pay phone call and the one buck movie ticket? Same answer.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

The same thing that happened to your wages!


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 12:59 p.m.

Is there anything that costs a buck or two these days?


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 12:10 p.m.

It's a shame, but Ypsi-Arbor didn't keep up with the times. I went to practice there one time, and was surprised to find the old style wooden lanes. I never returned as bowling on those lanes don't really help you bowl better on the newer surfaces.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

You don't pull up wood lanes to put in synthetic ones, just to "keep up with the times"; when the lanes are in need of replacing, then you replace the lanes. I'll save the snark for another time.


Thu, Feb 17, 2011 : 11:38 a.m.

does anyone know if the sign could be or is on the historic places and be listed as a historic landmark? im curious as to whether it could stay even without the business?