May 10, 2013 10:38:35 AM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
A new bowling center is rolling into Columbus. For more than a decade, the corner building of The Waverly Shopping Center off Highway 45 has sat empty. In recent years, the former Sack and Save facility began a transformation, adding a restaurant, a yogurt shop and a furniture store. But as the rest of the shopping center grew, the large corner space sat vacant.
That will change on July 1, when the 27,000-square-foot building will become a 24-lane bowling alley equipped with a bar and grill, a pool room and a party area.
Entrepreneur and businessman P.K. Ravi purchased the shopping center in late April, Realtor Royce Hudspeth of Rhett Real Estate said, adding that the Ravi family began looking at potential properties in January but decided on the old Sack and Save last month.
"It's going to be fantastic, because it's the Highway 82 and Highway 45 intersection," Hudspeth said. "It's going to attract people not just from Columbus but the surrounding area. It is high visibility and an outstanding space."
M.A. Copeland is overseeing the construction for the Ravis and said the project is quickly moving along. Copeland currently works out of Family Bowl Lanes in Meridian and said he is excited to bring his passion to Columbus.
"We'll have a big game room, pool tables, and we have looked at the possibility of adding bumper cars and some laser stuff," he said. "Hopefully it's going to be a rec center, but that will not take place originally. It will have to be in steps. I want to give Columbus as decent a bowling center and operation as I can possibly do. That's my major concern."
The contractor said the Ravi family looked at three other towns in Mississippi before deciding to bring the bowling alley to Columbus.
"Columbus has needed a good bowling center for years I think," he said. "We looked at four cities -- Vicksburg, Jackson, Tupelo (and Columbus) but my choice was Columbus from the start. I knew they needed it. I believe in the people of Columbus and I knew if we carried a bowling center there and ran it right, they would support us."
The lanes are inside the facility, waiting to be installed, but the building needs to be properly wired before any major construction can begin, Copeland said.
"The biggest thing we've got now is getting electricity," he said. "It's not like you put them on a switch and they all come on at the same time. All of them will have to have their individual switches so if you have a problem with one it doesn't cut off the others."
Copeland said in addition to cosmetic work inside the building, additional bathrooms have to be added as well.
"There is one bathroom area, so that will have to be expanded," he said. "You'll just have to increase the stall space. The ladies' (room) needs at least two, and one of those will have to be handicapped. The men's needs at least one stall, and that will have to be handicapped. Then you'll have three or four urinals, of course."
Copeland said while there is more work to be done, he is confident in the July 1 opening date.
"It's a lot of work to be done," he said. "We've got a little more work to do but he has signed the contract so it's just a case of getting the work done. Sometimes it's hard to get a contractor. Just because you want them to do it doesn't mean they're going to get in there in the next 30 minutes."
In addition to the 24 bowling lanes, the facility will have a bar and grill that will serve beer but not hard liquor.
"(Alcohol) will be at the bar and grill under a controlled situation," he said. "You just won't walk in there and sit around and drink beer. It's for the people that come in and want to have a beer while they're bowling."
Copeland said the new alley will also host arcade game machines and a pro shop. The space for the birthday party area is still in the planning phase but Copeland said he wants to make sure the space will offer enough room to accommodate parties of different sizes.
"We'll have plenty of places for birthday parties," he said. "We might not seal them off. We might buy the sliding dividers that can make the room bigger or smaller."
Hudspeth said he feels that having a new business in town that caters to families, and especially children, is filling a much-needed niche market in Columbus.
"From bowling to the arcade to the kids' areas, people are traveling long distances to have birthday parties these days," he said. "You'll go to Starkville, Tupelo or Tuscaloosa for a party or family entertainment, so this particular facility is really going to be an answer to a lot of people's needs. It's going to be quite a place for the entire family to come and enjoy. I know it's going to be a great place of enjoyment and family fun."
Copeland said while the prices have not yet been set, they will be competitive with other lanes in Columbus and Starkville.
"That will be taken care of prior to opening, but it will be a competitive price," he said. "It won't be higher than anyone else we've got around there, I'll tell you that."
He added that he and the Ravis want to make sure the bowling alley is a family-friendly environment.
"I just want the people of Columbus to know that I've asked this man (Ravi) to put a lot of money up and he has, because I felt like they would support him better than anywhere else I know of. As long as we give them a good center, they will bless us by coming to see us."
"Working on this particular project was exciting in that the Ravis were able to purchase a facility that could fulfill their vision," he said. "At the same time, it is pleasing to know that this facility will serve so many people in the Columbus area. It's really going to be great."
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.