Bowling alley supporters girding for fight against Walgreens; rally set for Jan. 21

Edmonds mom Teri Terrano knows that the odds are stacked against her for saving her community’s only bowling alley, but she is committed to doing all she can to prevent Robin Hood Lanes from being razed to make way for a Walgreens store.

An avid bowler, Terrano and other Robin Hood Lanes supporters have been at local stores and community gathering places during recent weeks, taking a poll of what local residents think about the permit application by Walgreens to build a new store that would replace the 51-year-old bowling alley at Edmonds Way and 100th Avenue West. So far, they have collected more than 1,000 signatures in favor of keeping bowling alley at its current Westgate business district location, she said.

On Saturday, Jan. 21, Robin Hood Lanes supporters are planning an 11 a.m. rally outside the bowing alley to attract attention to their cause and to send a clear message to Walgreens: While the national chain is welcome to locate in Edmonds, they should be looking somewhere else than the property on which the bowling alley sits, Terrano said. Meanwhile, she has compiled a list of contact information for key Walgreens’ executives, which she will be making available at the bowling alley, urging supporters to engage in a letter-writing campaign.

Rhune Harkestad of Kidder Matthews, representing San Francisco-based property developer Seven Hills, which works with Walgreens stores to acquire property for its stores, has predicted that the City of Edmonds permit process is likely to take four to six  months.

The land on which Robin Hood Lanes stands is owned by an Edmonds family while the building is owned by John Gunther, who used to own the bowling alley. Robin Hood Lanes owner Mike Gubsch said that he and Gunther had been trying to buy the land but the family was unwilling to sell.

Harkestad said that the property owners’ lease with Gunther has a provision that allows them to break the lease when the land is sold.

Assuming the city approves the permit, the bowling alley would be razed and construction would begin in late summer 2012 and the Walgreens would be open for business by February 2013 at the earliest, Harkestad said.

As for Terrano, she has been coordinating support through the Robin Hood Lanes Against Walgreens Facebook group page (this is a closed Facebook group, so you have to send a request to Terrano to participate), which included a report on her Thursday meeting with Mayor Dave Earling and Community Services and Economic Development Director Stephen Clifton. Here’s part of that report here:

They don’t object with our efforts to fight this and they understand how valuable the bowling alley is to the community of Edmonds and don’t want to see it go. Unfortunately, their hands are tied to the guidelines of the permit process. If Walgreens has enough money to sway the land owners into selling, well it comes down to the zoning and what the rules say about what can and cannot go there.

While I was hopeful that there was some clause stipulating the community’s say on the fact that we don’t need a 3rd pharmacy on that corner, there is none. If we as a community don’t want a Walgreens on that corner, or a Walmart for that matter, or 5 banks…well, we apparently have no say. I’m still having a hard time with this one!

I think what we need to do is refocus our efforts against Walgreens. Not necessarily because we don’t want a Walgreens (because maybe one downtown for the seniors who can’t make the jaunt up to Bartells and QFC pharmacy because they cannot drive and there is no pharmacies in our downtown), BUT we don’t need a Walgreens taking over the spot where our 50+ year, successful, community bowling alley sits.

Walgreens has many options available to them in Edmonds and the Westgate area. The benefits they may bring to Edmonds hardly out weighs the benefit of Robin Hood Lanes and its gift to the kids, teenagers, seniors, leagues, community, etc.

And here’s Terrano’s letter to Robin Hood Lanes owner Mike Gubsch:


We want you to know that there is a fast growing Edmonds community group doing everything we can to save Robin Hood Lanes. You have been an integral part of the family entertainment in Edmonds ever since you first opened over 50 years ago. Losing your facility will be detrimental to our community.

Robin Hood Lanes is one of the last local Edmonds businesses that is focused on fun for the entire community and continues to do so well even during our tough economy times. There are so many people that rely on and use your location for fun and entertainment as well as education and an indoor safe gathering place. Included in this list of people are over a thousand league bowlers that fill the bowling alley almost every night of the week. These people are not just local from Edmonds; they travel from as far away as Federal Way, Marysville and Kingston, to only name a few. There are the senior citizens, as old as 90 and the kids as young as 5. There are the local high school teams that practice and have tournaments; as well as those students there on evenings and weekends who rely upon an indoor structured activity, away from drugs and trouble so present in their lives at this age.

We know Robin Hood Lanes is one of the reasons Edmonds is so great. It is really unique to have the bowling alley as well as the Theaters, the Farmers Market, the Taste of Edmonds, the 4th of July Festivities, the Waterfront and Arts Festivals, etc. Edmonds is one of the last cities in Washington that has historically been able to provide the same things as Seattle but in a more intimate and family oriented way. In this we think Edmonds is one of the last places in Washington that still is in touch with the original soul of the city. If any one of these businesses or activities were to shut down it would be affect the entire city as a whole.

It is so hard for many to understand how a successful bowling alley could be replaced by a large pharmacy chain that many feel will not survive here and are perfectly happy with Bartell Drugs and QFC pharmacy. Other lots are vacant and available in the Westgate area; why must Walgreens choose this location that so integral to our community?

We hope for the kids, the teenagers, the seniors, the families and the community of Edmonds that our voices will be heard and in some way Robin Hood Lanes can be with us for at least another 50 years! Thank you for everything you have done and we are hopeful our community efforts will make a difference!!

Robin Hood Lanes against Walgreens,

Teri Terrano

    1. From the Facebook page:
      Mark A. Wagner Title: President – Community Management
      Address: Walgreen Co. – 200 Wilmont Road, Deerfield, IL 60015

      Gregory D. Wasson Title: President and CEO
      Address: Walgreen Co. – 200 Wilmont Road, Deerfield, IL 60015


      Real Estate Contact
      Sylvia Van Loveren
      Real Estate Vice President

      1411 Lake Cook Road, Mail Stop #L428
      Deerfield, IL 60015

  1. Who is the Edmonds family that owns the land and who apparenlty is unwilling to negotiate with the owner of the building, but is willing to sell to Walgreens?

  2. I know a member of the Edmonds family in question and would like to speak on their behalf. The owners of the bowling alley had a 50 year lease and during that time they enjoyed WELL under fair market rents. The family even offered them well below market vaue rent. This was money that this family was entitled to and could have used. They tried for 5 years to negotiate a fair market value for a new lease, and the owners of the bowling alley would not negotiate in good faith and asked for unreasonable concessions. This family is being vilified, and you people do not know the whole story. Mike Gubsch does NOT own the building or the business. If this bowling alley was so successful as you claim, they should be willing to pay a fair rent. Maybe that’s where you should be petitioning.

  3. Maggie, since we (the community) do not know the whole story as you have stated, why is the family that owns the land not stepping up to fill in the holes in the story? They should be coming forward so that we, the community, knows both sides of the story and can then decide how they feel and if they want to support the Robin Hood Lanes against Walgreens petition. I always say there are two sides to every story, however, in this case no one is telling the community the other side. We need to hear from the land owners their side so we may make educated decisions on who to support. I, for one, would like to hear both sides of the story.

  4. Dear Abby.

    I have owned my home for 25 years. I am currently in the process of selling since I need the profits. My plan is to help my mother defraying some cost of a nursing home.
    The buyers are Martians and my neighbors have started a petition to object to the sale, they object to the spaceship landing and taking off in the neighborhood.

    I have considered offering my home for sale to the petitioners, hoping they can match the offer from the Martians.
    My home is my sole investment and now is the time for me to sell. After paying off delinquent property taxes and a mortgage, the gains will be minimal but helpful in the care of my mother.


  5. Raeanne, if only everybody in the community were really interested in hearing both sides. The family representative has in fact spoken with the Seattle Times and expects an article to come out soon. They have also met with city representatives to tell their side. But everything printed so far has been so negative against the family that they’re fearful of the repercussions if they come forward. These very good people live, work and go to school in this community. This idea that they are greedy, uncaring people who don’t care about the community could not be farther from the truth.

  6. I do not know the owners of this property. But I do know that they have the right to do whatever they wish with it, so long as its lawful. If their goal is to maximize the value that they receive from its sale, nobody should be resentful – this is America.

  7. The fight to keep the bowling alley has never been directed towards the land owners. I agree that if you buy land and want to sell it, you should be able to. However, I personally believe, especially if they are residents of this community, that it would be nice if they had some want to develop our community in a positive way. Tearing down the bowling alley to build a Walgreens when there are already two pharmacies located on that corner is not beneficial to our community!

    I am a single Mom, raising two children and working to pay the bills. Don’t get me wrong, I would have to think about taking the substantial amount that I’m sure Walgreens offerred for that land….but I have thought long and hard and please put this on record that I can honestly say I would not sell to Walgreens and tear down the bowling alley. In fact, I truley believe that here lies only part of the problem with our world today. The better for one or many?

    If the building owner of the bowling alley won’t sign a fair lease, well lease the bowling alley to someone who will or sell the land to someone who wants to keep the bowling alley. The community’s issue has always been that we dont want to see the bowling alley replaced by a Walgreens. Its an Edmonds landmark and beneficial to Edmonds, as well as MANY local cities’ children, teenagers, seniors, families, etc!

    How much is fair? I bet many in this community would be willing to step up to the plate!

  8. I’m with those who object the land owner, developer and Walgreen’s being vilified. Then again, I simply can’t understand how another drugstore will be successful – it seems there are already so many.

    That said, I highly doubt those who are say they’d pass up fair market value to continue a tradition actual would – or should.

    I know that history and heritage are nice, but times change and people’s interests change as well – if bowling had a following similar to the arts, music or many other sports we wouldn’t even be talking about it because the owners of the business could charge a fair price to happy customers, and they could pay fair rent or mortgage for their land and building.

    Either (1) the current owners can’t increase their prices to pay for buying the land at a fair price or (2) they choose not to hoping that history/heritage will entitle them to profit at the expense of others – neither of which is fair to the property owners or the community.

    If enough people love bowling and want to pay for it, a new bowling alley will be developed.

    There’s certainly lots of very reasonably priced land available today. My guess is the WhirlyBall has a much smaller market that bowling – and they’ve survived albeit in a far less prime location. Additionally, I have to imagine the our ice skating rink has a small market and high operating costs – but they’ve also survived. Again in a less prime location.

    I think Tollen had it right… the same people who are horribly upset and asking to confront the land owners would be shocked, dismayed and calling the police if they were confronted by their neighbors telling them when, how and who they could sell their house or car to.

  9. Bowling alleys in our area are becoming extinct. While there are so many interested in the sport, the square footage required vs the cost to run the sport is….well, difficult! Robin Hood Lanes sits on a prime piece of property in Edmonds, that was not so prime back in that day. I get THAT! The landowners should benefit from this. THEY SHOULD for being smart to hold onto that property until it was profitable! I wish there was an easy answer to this dilemia! It’s a mess to say the least! The reality is that the owners deserve, AT LEAST, a fair market value on the lease or if they choose to sell, the bowling alley needs to meet the offer. (BUT against Walgreens???). If Robin Hood Lanes goes, there will not be another built in its place….especially in Edmonds because the cost of land is so high. I too, am coming to the realization of the whole situation. We owe the land owners an applause for allowing the bowling alley to pay below market value rent as long as they have. How do we save a recreational area in Edmonds that is valued by so many in this area? PLEASE help me figure out a way?

  10. I believe it would be difficult for most to make any useful suggestions without the situation being clarified. My understanding, and I could be wrong, is the there are three parties involved – the land owner, the owner of the building, and the bowling alley operator. I further understand that the land owner wants to get a greater lease value for his land. Has the building owner not agreed to a higher payment? If so, is that because the alley operator is unable to pay the building owner a resulting higher lease for the building? And if that’s the case, is that because the alley operator has determine that he cannot increase his charges a sufficient amount to cover a higher lease payment?

  11. I spoke with the business owners today. The building owner wants out of his obligation. The business owners had the property appraised and offerred to buy the building and the land for this amount. They were told the land was not for sale. The current business owners have also asked to buy the building and still lease the land at a fair lease value, similar to one paid by PCC. They have been refused this as well. In addition, the business owners wished to match or counter offer Walgreens offer, and again they were refused. This all came from the horses mouth, will be interested to hear the other side!

  12. Just a heads up, I really doubt that Robinhood Lanes could get even close to counter Walgreens multimillion dollar offer. This is probably why the family who owns the property won’t sell to the bowling alley that can barley pay the low side of market value for the lease. You have to think, would you turn down about 3 million dollars because people want a bowling alley that isn’t making the family any money anymore? This money will set their kids for college easily and it would set the family for life, which is very important in this day in age when you can’t tell if in a week you would even have a job.

    Teri Terrano says she is a single mom with two kids (if i remember correctly), if we were to ask her if she owned a prime location and was offered 3 million dollars to sell it, she wouldn’t sell it? It sounds like she cares about bowling more than she cares about her kids.

  13. Wow Jonathan, ouch! All I can say is that money is not what makes my world go round and I thank God each and every day for his blessings to me and my kids whom are by far the most important in my life. I am blessed to realize what is really important in life especially after losing my husband, who was my best friend, unexpectantly when they were only babies.

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