Golden Bowl on last frame

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It is official: The Golden Bowl property is slated to be torn down and rebuilt as a Natural Grocers.

The Golden community had a chance to see conceptual renderings of what the proposed store at 525 24th St. would look like on Tuesday, Feb. 19. The council chambers of City Hall were filled for the community meeting, where fans of pro bowling faced off against proponents of probiotics.

More than 30 people had questions or comments about the proposed development, with many criticizing Natural Grocers for wanting to put a store which would force closure of three businesses: Golden Bowl, Golden Music and Pedal Pushers Cyclery, which would need to be demolished to make room for parking. The nearby 5th Ring Coffee House would remain.

“Why haven’t you taken this plan somewhere else in the community that wouldn’t impact existing businesses so much?” Golden resident Nate Walker asked.

Natural Grocers Spokesman Alan Lewis said that the company had been looking for an ideal location in the city for three years, and found a willing seller in a good location.

“We’re not used to this (opposition). Other communities welcome us with open arms,” Lewis said, adding that if Natural Grocers pulled out, another developer would be along shortly.

Property owner Tom Yang told the crowd he tried to make the bowling alley financially profitable, and failed. Now, he says, the current tenant has also struggled.

“When (Natural Grocers) approached me I thought that could be a good opportunity for the neighborhood,” Yang said.

City historian Richard Gardner said the Golden Bowl and Natural Grocers (then known as Vitamin Cottage) both were founded in the city in 1955.

The Natural Grocers’ plans showed a 15,000-square-foot neighborhood market. It would have a smaller footprint than the bowling alley, and would be well under the maximum size allowed by the lot’s city zoning.

The store would feature fresh produce, dry goods and frozen food. Roughly half the retail floor space would be devoted to vitamins, supplements, and body care products. The store would have around 30 employees. A community room and demonstration kitchen would be available for community use, with free coffee and wireless internet.

Mike Keily, the current owner of the bowling alley, said he had struggled to keep it running, but that business had never been better.

“It can remain a bowling alley if we fight hard enough for it,” Keily said, adding that he had hopes of a third party coming in to help him purchase the property from Yang.

Bowling fans may not have much time however. The Natural Grocers proposal could be before the city’s Planning Commission within three months, and be built within a year according to city staff. Also, Yang says the purchase agreement for the land is already signed.