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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Whitestone Lanes bowling alley to become housing

This beloved Queens landmark has struck out. 

A new residentially minded rezoning won’t spare Flushing’s Whitestone Lanes bowling alley, which is set to be knocked down to make room for a new housing development. 

The long-in-the-works rezoning finally cleared its final hurdle this month in securing City Council approval to build a nine-story building with 415 apartments — 113 of which will be permanently affordable. There will also be 14,400 square feet of public space, which will include 200 cellar-level parking spaces, seating, trees, fitness equipment and table tennis on the site of the be-league-ered alley. 

Built in the 1960s and family-owned for three generations, the 48-lane alley — which, until the coronavirus pandemic, was open 24 hours a day — has watched bowling go from a nationwide pastime to a retro relic. 

A rendering of the development, which is slated to be built on the site of the bowling alley. Office of Sandra Ung
While the alley’s owner has pushed for the rezoning, the community has fought against it. Google Maps
Inside Whitestone Lanes. Whitestone Lanes
There is no start or end date yet set for the project that’s set to replace the alley. Whitestone Lanes

Although the owners have long been ready to strike out on the endeavor, first seeking to sell the 80,510-square-foot lot for $60 million back in 2015 before leading the push to rezone the address, local fans of the venue and its iconic facade — which is visible to drivers on the adjacent Whitestone Expressway — have loudly protested to keep the alley out of the gutter.  

“We fought to keep the Board of Education from building two high schools on that property and we must continue our commitment by denying them the opportunity to develop this project,” declares a 2019 Change.org petition to “Stop The Construction of a 9-Story Complex on the Site of Whitestone Lanes.”

In an area community board meeting this past September, attorney Eric Palatnik spoke on behalf of the alley’s owner, Marco Macaluso Jr., to say that, when Whitestone Lanes started, “Bowling alleys were the newest, biggest fad at the time.” But today, “They’re not a fad anymore. It’s over, and they are over, too, and they know it,” Queens Chronicle reported at the time. 

Politicians, meanwhile, call the development necessary to alleviate the current real estate crisis, promising that it will not only “create much-needed affordable housing in Flushing, but will be built using union labor that will deliver good paying jobs to our community and will also include a new public plaza in an area of my district that is severely lacking in open space,” said Council Member Sandra Ung, who represents Flushing, QNS reported.

Bowlers, however, doubt they’ll ever recover from the loss of Whitestone Lanes. 

“I’ve been here half my life,” Herzin Cinaus, who has worked at the alley since he was 14, told QNS. “I have a lot of favorite parts about this place. When you’re used to something for years, you can’t get over it.”

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