Bowladrome site sold

Had George Berry arrived on the scene a little earlier, the sound of bowling balls toppling pins might have survived.

The former Red Deer Bowladrome on 51st Avenue is now under redevelopment.

The former Red Deer Bowladrome on 51st Avenue is now under redevelopment.

Had George Berry arrived on the scene a little earlier, the sound of bowling balls toppling pins might have survived.

But the principal of Berry Architecture and Associates Ltd. is still poised to save the historic building that housed the Red Deer Bowladrome until April 1.

Berry’s firm has purchased the vacant structure at 5218 50th Ave. and plans to renovate it for use as its new office. The building will be gutted, said Berry, with the exterior redone and the second-floor ceiling raised in places.

If municipal approval is obtained, work could begin in September and wrap up by the end of November.

“Quite a bit of environmental construction is going to go into it,” said Berry, who hopes to use products like soy-based insulation and include such features as a green roof and skylights with photovoltaic cells.

If he’d had his way, a few of the building’s 24 bowling lanes might have found their way into the design as well.

“They took them out before I got the building.

“Otherwise, I was going to keep a couple in there.”

Scattering pins on a Friday afternoon would have been a nice way for members of his staff and others in the building to end their work weeks, suggested Berry.

“It would have been kind of fun.”

Now he hopes to preserve the building’s past with mementos like photos in the lobby. The underlying block-and-steel structure will remain, as will some unique brick work and other features on the facade.

“The building is in really good structural condition,” said Berry, noting that its original use as a farm implement dealership in the 1950s required that it be designed to support considerable weight.

Russ Bourk, whose family previously owned the building, said its other uses included as a lumber yard. It was converted into a bowling alley in 1965, he added.

Bourk’s father Bud, who operated a local men’s wear store and managed the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce, bought the property in 1974.

He ran the bowling alley until retiring to Vancouver Island about 10 years later, selling the Bowladrome business but retaining ownership of the building.

Berry said this history appealed to him, and influenced the decision to renovate rather than demolish.

His firm, which has 23 staff members and continues to grow, will occupy the 8,000-square-foot second floor. The main level will be leased out, possibly for use as medical offices.

“We’ve had some discussions with a couple doctors around who are really looking forward to that opportunity.

“Or maybe we can find some small mom-and-pop retail stores, or something along that line.”

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