My Edmonds News received the following letter from the owners of the property where Robin Hood Lanes is located, regarding their decision to sell the land as a site for a new Walgreens store. Supporters of the bowling alley are holding a “Save the Alley” rally at 11 a.m. Saturday
My name is Carol Clute. I am the daughter of Frank J. and Elizabeth Wuscher, who were the prior owners of the Westgate property where Robin Hood Lanes is located. The current owner is Wuscher Family LLLP.
In 1960 my parents leased the land for 99 years to a gentleman who constructed the bowling alley building on the site. Under the lease, there were no adjustments in the rent for the first 50 years, that is, until 2010, at which time the rent was to be adjusted to market value. This provision of the lease was highly favorable to the tenant because it allowed the bowling alley to operate for decades at rents that were far below market value. During the last few years leading up to 2010, the monthly rent was about $2,000 – only a small fraction of market value.
In January 2010, when the time came to adjust the rent to market value, we could not agree with the tenant, Guenther’s Robin Hood Lanes, Inc., a corporation owned by John and Patricia Guenther, on what the new rent should be. However, Mr. Guenther and the Wuscher family did agree that we would have an opportunity to find someone who would (i) buy Mr. Guenther’s bowling alley business at Mr. Guenther’s price and (ii) either take over the existing lease or sign a new lease with the Wuscher family.
At that point we contacted Mike Gubsch, who operates the bowling alley business for Mr. Guenther, to see if he might be interested. (Contrary to some reports, Mr. Gubsch is not the owner of the bowling alley business.)
We tried hard to negotiate the terms of a new lease with Mr. Gubsch, but the negotiations were unsuccessful. One problem was that the parties could not agree on a fair rent. Mr. Gubsch proposed rents that were well below market, and he was not willing to adjust the rents to market levels until after 15 years.
After the negotiations with Mr. Gubsch ended, Mr. Guenther and the Wuscher family entered into a new agreement, under which (i) the Wuscher family agreed to buy the bowling alley business at Mr. Guenther’s price, and (ii) the existing lease was replaced by a new lease. For the duration of the new lease, Mr. Guenther would continue to operate the bowling alley on the premises.
The new lease allows the Wuscher family to terminate the new lease early if the Wuscher family pays the remainder of the amount owing to Mr. Guenther for the purchase of his business. If the sale to Seven Hills Properties goes through, the lease will be terminated.
In August 2011, Seven Hills Properties contacted us with a proposal to buy the bowling alley site. Up until that time, the family had not been interested in selling the property. Upon careful consideration, and taking into account these uncertain economic times, the family members decided that selling at the price offered was in the best interest of the family.