Arlington Highlands to raze bowling center

Unable to find a suitable tenant, the Arlington Highlands announced Thursday that it will tear down the vacant Splitsville bowling center to make room for more retail.

M&J Wilkow, which co-owns the south Arlington shopping center at Matlock Road and Interstate 20, said demolition could begin within the next 30 to 60 days. The bowling center, bar and restaurant concept closed in 2011 after two years of operation.

The developer has been seeking a replacement tenant for Splitsville since 2012 but the 25,000-square-foot space, which includes 10 bowling lanes, was a tough sell because of its configuration, said David Harvey, M&J Wilkow senior vice president.

“It’s got an uneven floor that can’t be reused for most retail,” Harvey said. “We couldn’t find any other national chains that operated a bowling center.”

In its place, the developer plans to spend between $7.5 million and $10 million over the coming months to build 75,000 square feet of retail space. The addition, expected to open next summer or fall, will feature between two and six new stores that will be announced at a later date, Harvey said. Demolition of the bowling alley is expected to cost about $150,000, he said.

Community leaders learned about the retail addition and shopping center updates Thursday at the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s eighth annual State of the City luncheon at the Convention Center. The Arlington Highlands, with more than 800,000 square feet of restaurants, shops and entertainment options, is one of the city’s largest sales tax revenue generators.

“The center is a powerhouse,” Economic Development Manager Bruce Payne said about the expansion. “It’s all good news.”

M&J Wilkow also announced the upcoming opening of two women’s apparel stores, a Chico’s in November and J. Jill, which will open in the former Coldwater Creek space next spring. The developer also plans to add more landscaping and shade structures to make the center more pedestrian friendly.

Additionally, Harvey said he expects that the construction of the Center Street bridge over Interstate 20, which is already underway, will eventually provide additional access for shoppers seeking to avoid the busy Matlock Road entrance. The estimated $11.1 million, four-lane bridge will extend Center Street south of Highlander Boulevard south of the interstate and connect to Bardin Road. That project is expected to be complete in 2016.