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Not a gutter ball yet

May 28, 2003

major renovation, and nothing short of that would have made it a

viable use."

But some say the Segerstroms failed to provide long-term lease

opportunities.

Dave Osborn, vice-president of operations for Fountain Bowl in

Fountain Valley, said the partnership that owns Fountain Bowl tried

to negotiate a long-term lease with the Segerstroms five years ago,

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to no avail.

"The landlord would not give us a long-term lease," Osborn said.

"Without it, you can't renovate the center, [you] can't afford to do

it. [The Segerstroms] did not want it to be a bowling center. They

wanted it to be something else."

And as recently as a week ago, Eleda Cohen, managing partner of

Sports Center Bowl in Studio City, said the Segerstroms wouldn't give

her any price for the land. Cohen said her business has increased 10%

each of the last four years.

"A piece of property in Costa Mesa is a prime piece of property

and it would be great to have a bowling center there," Cohen said. "I

didn't have anything to go on."

And the Segerstroms' claim that the market for bowling in Costa

Mesa is lackluster isn't entirely correct, Roussin said.

While league bowling throughout the industry has dropped in recent

years, nonleague bowling has picked up, keeping attendance overall

steady, Roussin explained.

"It used to be 70% league and 30% open," Roussin said. "Today,

it's about 50-50. There's a decline in one area, but entertainment

and open play has picked up and [we're] still at 100% plateau.

Overall, it's doing extremely well."

Former Planning Commissioner Tim Cromwell also believes the

Segerstroms could have done more to save Kona Lanes and the other

entertainment uses. Putting up a "For Lease" sign would have been a

good start, he said.

Cromwell, who develops shopping centers, said the Segerstroms can

make more money converting the entertainment to other uses. But he

would like to see the Segerstroms keep Kona Lanes and use it as a

bargaining chip with the city for future entitlements on the

property.

Cromwell would also like to see a city leader act quickly to

declare the bowling alley historical to prevent demolition.

"If I was actually a city councilman, knowing what I know right

now about the interest in Kona Lanes from legitimate operators and

people who have the money to renovate and operate it and run it as a

first-class bowling alley, I think I would look into declaring Kona

Lanes as a historic building in the city of Costa Mesa and stop the

wrecking ball," Cromwell said.

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