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Burnaby’s last bowling alley land sold to developer, highrise towers planned

The home of Revs Entertainment, the last remaining bowling alley in Burnaby, has been sold to Keltic Canada Development.

No pin left standing — the last bowling alley in Burnaby is about to fall.

The land where Revs Entertainment bowling alley has sat for more than 60 years has sold to a developer.

Keltic Canada Development purchased the 4.28-acre property at 5502 Lougheed Hwy., right next to Holdom SkyTrain station in Brentwood.

Rob Taylor, vice-president of Revs Entertainment, said the company is sad to sell but couldn’t survive high property taxes.

“The property taxes have been astronomical for many years,” Taylor said. “We’ve been taxed based on ‘highest and best use,’ which is not a bowling centre, it’s residential and commercial.”

“So unfortunately, the property tax has been killing us for many years, and kind of the final straw that broke the camel’s back was COVID-19 and centre closures. We couldn’t survive anymore in that location, so we had no choice but to sell.”

Julian Ward, Keltic’s vice-president of development, said the developer was interested in the property due to its location.

“We thought it was a great location in between the Brentwood centre and the Holdom SkyTrain station, so it’s the pocket in between that the city is looking to densify,” Ward said.

While the architectural designs are still in the very preliminary stages, Ward said the plan is to build highrise towers.

“What we envisage probably is, not confirmed yet, obviously, two, maybe three highrise towers in between 35 levels and 55 levels, storeys, with associated podiums. … Hopefully that site can accommodate potentially three towers,” he said, adding the company is looking to include commercial retail.

What about the bowling alley?

“The bowling alley’s not going to go straight away,” Ward said.

Revs, which has the bowling alley, a bar and restaurant, will be able to operate during the development cycle of processing and permitting, which Ward estimated would be at least a year “and a bit,” before demolition.

The NOW asked if a bowling alley could be incorporated into the development. Ward said that had not been discussed.

Taylor said bowling alleys are in decline.

“Bowling centres in general are disintegrating, simply due to property taxes in general,” Taylor said, adding many bowling centres, which sit on large plots of scarce land, are being bought and redeveloped.

The development

Keltic plans to build market condos and 20 per cent affordable rental units, required by bylaw.

Ward did not disclose the purchase price, but the NOW asked whether a preliminary report of $88 million was true. Ward suggested the price was more than that number. The 2023 assessment for the property was almost $101 million.

Still, Ward said the purchase was at a “smart price” as the land has some contamination, as well as Beecher Creek which runs through it. Both issues factored into the acquisition price.

The developer is working with the city to enhance the creek, which is a salmon-bearing stream. Ward said Keltic is planning to create a pedestrian pathway along the creek with a riparian habitat, including vegetation and trees.

The 5502 Lougheed project will go to council for rezoning at a later date.

A spare history of Burnaby’s last bowling alley

Revs was originally known as Brentwood Lanes.

The $1.5-million bowling centre (equivalent to $14.8 million today, according to the federal government’s inflation calculator) opened in June 1962.

The Province newspaper at the time called it “the most modern establishment of its kind in Canada” with 48 Brunswick Gold Crown lanes with automatic tenpin setters.

It even had its own supervised playroom for up to 70 children — adults could leave their kids and bowl away.

Brentwood Lanes offered free bowling instruction, a restaurant and lounge, and an eight-table billiard room, according to ads in the Province.

In the ’60s and ’70s, Brentwood Lanes was home to the Burnaby Teachers’ Bowling League, the largest league in Western Canada with team names like Woodchicks, Gutter Runners, Capitol Punishment, Kensington Turkeys and Moldy Oaks, according to Inkwells to Internet: A History of Burnaby Schools.

“It used to be a 24-hour-day operation in its infancy,” Taylor said. “And it’s still, to my knowledge, one of the busiest bowling centres in Canada.”

Jeong Lee bought Brentwood Lanes in 1999 and turned it into Revs.

More than four years ago, the now-former landowner of the site had difficulty selling the property due to a previous realtor, culminating in a years-long lawsuit. The judge presiding over the case described comments made in those proceedings as “a festival of deceitfulness.”

The bowling alley has hosted many a local tenpin great.

In 2004, a team of 12 bowlers at Revs broke the Guinness World Record for ‘Most bowling pins knocked down on one lane in a 24-hour period,’ with 37,609 bowling pins knocked down.

Revs Entertainment also owns Coquitlam bowling alley Zones and a Revs in Maple Ridge, both of which remain open.

Revs Burnaby is the largest bowling alley west of Ontario.

“We love the industry because people come here to have fun, they have a good time. It’s available for ages three to 93,” Taylor said.

“What’s great about the industry is that it’s just a wonderful entertainment venue for all ages and all different types of fun.”

Burnaby was an epicentre of bowling alleys back in the day, including:

  • Digney Lanes (where Bonsor Recreation Centre is now located, fivepin)
  • Old Orchard Bowling Centre (fivepin)
  • Lougheed Lanes (fivepin)
  • Middlegate Lanes (fivepin)
  • Hastings Bowl (fivepin)

Move the slider below to see a then-and-now of the bowling alley at 5502 Lougheed Hwy.

📣 TELL YOUR STORY: Do you have memories of the old Brentwood Lanes? Will you miss Revs? Let us know.

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