Richland Lanes is set to be sold, and one of the buyers reported on Friday that his company has tentative plans to remove some of the bowling alley’s lanes and add a 50-game arcade, a laser tag arena, two escape rooms, a selection of virtual reality games and a bar and grill.
“Our plan is to take it from a traditional bowling center to a bowling-anchored family entertainment center,” said Chris Hogue, a co-owner with his brother Bobby of Johnstown Entertainment Realty LLC, which has entered into an agreement to purchase the Richland Township bowling alley from Richland Ventures Inc.
Hogue is also a co-owner of Hogue’s Fun Factory, a “party and play center” for kids in the Johnstown Galleria that offers inflatable “bounce houses” and an arcade. He said that improvements and renovations to the alley’s existing amenities are also planned.
Richland Lanes, 1140 Frances St., offers 40 lanes of bowling, a pro shop and an on-site Fox’s Pizza.
“I’m 75 years old, and I’m not physically fit to run it anymore,” said Mike Misler, the current owner of Richland Lanes, who confirmed Friday that the sale is planned and said that bowling is still expected to be offered there.
Hogue noted that plans are still being finalized, that the purchase has not yet been completed and that no definite time line has yet been set. The purchase of Richland Lanes will not affect the operation of Hogue’s Fun Factory, he added.
Johnstown Entertainment Realty is seeking to obtain a liquor license as part of its plans to renovate and expand the business, according to a joint statement issued on Friday by the attorneys involved in the deal – Denver E. Wharton, of the firm Kaminsky, Thomas, Wharton, Lovette & Vigna, who represents Richland Ventures, and Andrew Schellhammer, of the firm Leventry, Haschak & Rodkey LLC, who represents Johnstown Entertainment Realty LLC.
To get a liquor license through the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, the parties involved in the sales agreement must file a legal action in which the owners of some properties near Richland Lanes will technically be named as defendants, according to Wharton and Schellhammer.
A 70-year-old restriction on the deed to the bowling alley’s property makes the move necessary, according to the attorneys.
They said the bowling alley’s Frances Street property was part of a plan involving lots laid out in 1950 – when the area was primarily residential and agricultural in nature. The deeds for properties sold from that plan of lots include a restriction prohibiting “the sale or manufacture of beer or liquor” on the land.
Before a liquor license can be obtained for the property, the restriction on the sale of beer and liquor must be removed and eliminated. The legal process involves Richland Ventures Inc. and Johnstown Entertainment Realty LLC, filing a complaint called an action to quiet title, naming as defendants all the owners of properties that were included in the plan of lots, the attorneys said.
Wharton and Schellhammer said the action “has no direct impact on the property owners, either from a financial standpoint or to their property.”
“The upshot of this legal action is for the Richland Lanes property to be able to obtain a PLCB license to sell alcoholic beverages in an expanded and renovated facility, which will be a family entertainment center and bowling alley,” they said. “The lawsuit to remove and eliminate the restriction is needed in order for a significant financial investment in Richland Township to become a reality.”
Any party named in the action to quiet title can contact Wharton or Schellhammer with any questions or concerns, they said.
Changes over time
A copy of the action to quiet title filed on Monday in the Cambria County Prothonotary’s Office provides more information on the history of the Richland Lanes property and the attorneys’ arguments for why the deed restriction should be removed.
The relevant plan of lots was laid out by Cloyd and Muriel Hostetler in 1950. While development of the area has altered the courses of some streets, a comparison of a map of the plan dated June 6, 1950, to a modern map indicates that the area included in the plan is roughly bounded by portions of today’s Scalp Avenue, Metzler Street, Lenore Street, Wineland Street and Constable Street.
The plan initially contained approximately 230 lots. Because numerous lots were combined over the years, there are now 140 owners of properties that were part of that plan. The area around Richland Lanes now includes numerous commercial properties, including CVS Pharmacy, Wolf’s Furniture, Slovenian Savings & Loan, a hair salon, a dentist’s office and a shopping center.
A list of properties included in the Hostetler plan of lots includes addresses on Frances Street, Metzler Street, Lenore Street, Norwood Street, Hostetler Road, Wineland Street, Tener Street, Constable Avenue, Rachel Street and Chrysler Avenue.
The attorneys wrote that the PLCB issued a liquor license in relation to the 1140 Frances St. property in 1982 – despite the restriction on the deed. That liquor license was associated with an establishment called “Fast Lane,” which sold beer and liquor and operated in tandem with Richland Lanes. The liquor license was sold off in the early 1990s to a restaurant elsewhere in Richland Township.
The attorneys noted that no objections were raised to the sale of alcohol on the property during the 10 years or so Fast Lane was in operation and that Richland Lanes patrons today are permitted to bring their own alcohol onto the property and consume it there.
They argued that the restriction was abandoned during the time the 1982 liquor license was used on the property and that the change of the surrounding neighborhood from agricultural-residential to commercial has rendered the restriction legally unenforceable.
Hogue said that the liquor license being sought for Richland Lanes is the one formerly held by Westmont Gardens.