While lack of financial backing continues to delay construction of the Ten Pin Fun Center, the Turlock Planning Commission approved development to start at the site where the bowling alley was set to open.
Planning commissioners agreed to change the restrictions of the planned development site on the corner of Monte Vista Avenue and Crowell Road to allow a new Prime Shine Car Wash to open, despite previous phased development restrictions contingent on the construction of the Ten Pin Fun Center.
"It is what it is now; it needs to be developed," said Commissioner Alex Salcedo of the site.
The planned development consists of the intended location of the entertainment center and two outlying, 5,000 sq. ft. pads for commercial or retail businesses, designated for phased in build out.
At least one commissioner was hesitant to lift the planned development phasing restrictions, as the site was originally designated for a recreation center — something found to be lacking in Turlock.
"If the phasing is blown out and the car wash falls through, then we could have a gas station there," said Commissioner Soraya Fregosi.
Other commissioners were in full support of seeing development start at the site.
"I don't know how many times I've heard of a project on this piece of dirt over the past 13 years," said Commission Chair Mike Brem.
"Yes there have been exceptions, for logical reasons. We want something there other than that bare piece of dirt forever."
In the end, the Commission unanimously voted to approve lifting the phasing restrictions, with the condition that the Prime Shine Car Wash begin construction at the site within the next year. If for some reason the car wash is not built on the site, then any other business seeking to open there — other than the Ten Pin Fun Center — would have to get development approval through the Planning Commission.
Even though the Commission placed the condition on lifting the planned development, Prime Shine Car Wash owner Evan Porges said Thursday night that the company was ready to move forward with final planning and construction immediately.
The first Prime Shine was built on Golden State Boulevard in Turlock in 1996, and has since become the company's busiest location.
"It's pretty obvious the need is there," Porges said.
The new Prime Shine will be located adjacent to the existing Rite Aid property on Monte Vista Avenue. According to the project's architect, Bob DeGrasse of L Street Architects, the new car wash will be a state-of-art green project with 28 vacuum stalls and an automated tunnel wash. A 190 foot driveway into the site was designed, with the input of the city Planning Department, to ensure traffic does not back up onto Monte Vista Avenue.
According to city staff, there were no complaints lodged by nearby residents regarding the proposed car wash project. The original Prime Shine will continue to serve customers in the downtown area.
As for the status of the Ten Pin Fun Center, "We're still working on it," project developer Jerry Powell told the Planning Commission on Thursday. When the Ten Pin Fun Center was approved by the Turlock City Council on Dec. 14, 2010,developers said the nearly 52,000 square-foot family entertainment center would open in winter 2011.
Powell blamed the recent economic climate for the project's two year delay.
"The last couple of years has been pretty tough financially," he said. "The lending environment has gotten worse."
When commissioners asked if the project was still a possibility, Powell insisted he was close to getting the financial backing needed to start construction.
"I hope you realize we want bowling to come to Turlock," Brem told Powell.
After giving multiple examples of how hard it is to get loans for new developments in today's lending market, Powell said the Ten Pin project is actually ahead of the game because of the planned development for the center approved by the city of Turlock.
"You don't give up, you just keep working on it," he said.