East Hawaii News

Offer Placed on Former Hilo Lanes Location

February 4, 2016, 5:40 PM HST
* Updated February 4, 5:46 PM
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Hilo Lanes. File photo by Hunter Bishop.

Hilo Lanes. File photo by Hunter Bishop.

A once family-owned bowling spot and gathering place for people of all ages may be revived.

The once-popular Hilo Lanes property, located at 777 Kinoole Street in Hilo, has been closed since May 2014. First, the bowling alley closed, and later, its small bar followed suit.

Now, Lorraine Shin, businesswoman and mother to Ultimate Fighting Championship Hall of Famer BJ Penn, is hoping to bring the community back to the former bowling alley. She has placed an offer on the property, which is going through the escrow process.

“It is such a viable property,” Shin said. “My sons and the family have been looking at the property not just recently, but for a while, and noticed that it’s been empty for quite a long time. We’ve been watching it since it’s right next to our gym.”

At the urging of her family, Shin took a closer look at the property and saw value in the 3.7 acre location. Part of her plan would include leasing out the building to an anchor tenant, with a potential goal of reviving it as a family destination. She stressed, however, that it is too early to know what will eventually become of the building, as she is currently in contact with potential suitors.

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“Originally, they [her sons] thought it could be a great place to bring the UFC Gym to Hilo, because we have two gyms on Oahu that are doing amazing, especially the Waikele BJ Penn Gym, which has broken all sales records. Their revenues are higher than any other gym in the world,” Shin explained. “But we decided that numbers don’t work here because when you have a million people on Oahu and you’ve only got about 40,000-50,000 people in Hilo, we’d really have to watch our numbers.”

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For a moment, Shin said that there was a thought of moving her family’s Penn Fitness and Training Center over to that location, but business has remained good.

Shin also said that the second part of her plan for the property would be to develop the back portion of the area, which has provided extra parking. She did not elaborate on her plan for the second phase.

No matter who becomes a tenant of the building, pending the approval of Shin’s proposed deal, one thing she doesn’t want to do is tear down the building. She praised the original owners of the property for the way the structure was built.

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“The family that built it knew what they were doing,” Shin explained. “When you’ve got a building that has 40 lanes, but there are no pillars…it’s just a solid building. People always ask us if we are going to scrape it or tear it down. It’s not our intention. We love the building. We want to work with them and see what we can do.”

Shin believes that the escrow process could be completed sometime between April and June.

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