Future of former Bowl-O-Drome property?

It has been ten years since Bowl-O-Drome closed for business.

And the building has remained vacant ever since.

It’s a valuable piece of property on Isenberg Street in Moiliili.

So, what’s the current status of the property, and what’s the future of it?

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands owns the property and is still weighing its options, now with the help of a consultant.

Bowl-O-Drome opened for business in the 1950s, briefly closed in 2000, and then closed for good in 2004.

Today, the place appears virtually untouched since the last strikes were thrown.

We got a peak inside because the door was unlocked.  There are still bowling balls on the rack, and bowling trophies in a box.

And on the outside, the building certainly sticks out among its neighbors, not just because it’s pink.  The paint is peeling, and it looks run-down.  Some people call it an eyesore.

The former bowling alley sits on a nearly two-acre property in pricey urban Honolulu.

When Bowl-O-Drome closed ten years ago, there were talks that Verizon would move in, but that never happened.

A towing company has been leasing the parking lot from DHHL since 2007.

“It’s a waste of space. Right now they could do something beneficial for the community,” said Warren Ishii of Moiliili.

KHON2 asked DHHL Public Information Officer Puni Chee: “Why has it taken so long to figure out what to do with the land?”

Chee replied: “Well in any situation, you need the resources to develop and there was so much need and desire for residential pieces in other areas and we had infrastructure and the ability to develop other areas.”

Now, a decade later, and DHHL is re-focusing its efforts on what to do with this prime property.

“We’ve retained a consultant to do a feasibility study to determine what options we have available to us based on the zoning and any type of issues regarding land usage in that area,” Chee said.

It’s zoned for mixed-use.

“I think they should turn it back into a bowling alley because give the kids and people something to do,” Ishii said.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who represents the area, says she knows of two people who want to develop the site — turning it into senior housing, or a student center, or a medical clinic.

But they’d want to buy the land.

“Because if you’re going to spend all that money cleaning the soil then tearing down the building because of the asbestos and putting up a new building, you know you don’t want to do that and just have a lease,” Kobayashi said.

But DHHL says the land isn’t for sale.

“Well those are trust lands and we wouldn’t be looking at selling any of those. basically what we do with our trust lands is either place hawaiians on the land or utilize it in the interim to generate revenue,” Chee said.

He says one of the possibilities could be creating multi-family homes for Native Hawaiians.

But for now, DHHL is just waiting for the consultant’s report.

“We will take those recommendations and move those forward and see how we can best serve our beneficiaries,” Chee said.

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