A few months before the first phase of Essex Crossing makes its debut, there’s been a change in one of the big commercial tenants coming to the mega-project. A Florida-based bowling concept, Splitsville Lanes, will be replaced by the Gutter, a home-grown bowling alley.
Back in 2015, Delancey Street Associates (the group building Essex Crossing) announced that Splitsville Lanes would be taking 17,000 square feet on the lower level of 242 Broome St. In an interview yesterday, Andrew Katz of the Prusik Group (one of the development partners) explained the reasons for the switch from one operator to another.
Splitsville Lanes, selected for the project after a nationwide search, had never done business in New York City. At some point, the owners of the company came to the developers to ask about taking on a partner with local experience. Delancey Street Associates was open to the idea, said Katz. In the process of locating the right NYC-based partner, the development team got to know the owners of the Gutter, which operates bowling alleys in Williamsburg/Greenpoint and Long Island City. Splitsville Lanes ultimately dropped out of Essex Crossing, with the Gutter taking over the Lower East Side space.
In the end, it was probably for the best. The Gutter opened on North 14th Street in 2007, cultivating an old school vibe. As the New York Times noted a few years ago, the venue presents “itself as a cheaper and lower-key alternative to Brooklyn Bowl, its higher-profile neighbor around the corner.” In 2014, Gothamist called the Gutter one of the eight best bowling alleys in the city, praising its “elegant, old school lanes, classic bar and vintage decor.” The existing locations, said Katz, have “a cool, homey feel.” That might be a little harder to replicate in a shiny new real estate project on the Lower East Side, but the owners definitely know New York nightlife.
The entrance to the Gutter will be on Essex Street. Customers will walk into a 500 square foot lobby leading to the main space in the basement. While there are live bands at the Brooklyn original, Katz said the Lower East Side spot will not be a concert venue (there might be live bands from time-to-time). There will be 12 lanes.
Drinks and food will be served (think typical bowling alley grub, not high-end cuisine). The bowling alley is expected to open before the end of this year. We have reached out to co-owner Todd Powers, but haven’t been able to connect just yet.
242 Broome St. also includes 55 condominium apartments, and a new home for the International Center of Photography (ICP won’t open at Essex Crossing until 2019). There’s about 9,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, most of which likely won’t be leased until the building is officially opened in the summer/fall.
UPDATE 4/17 This morning we talked with Todd Powers, who owns the Gutter with Drew DeWitt. They already have preliminary drawings, and an architect is working on more formal designs. Powers said the idea is to play off the subterranean space, giving it a Mid-America/Mid-Century basement feel.
The all-wood lanes, like the Gutter’s other locations, will be sourced from a shuttered bowling alley (the ones in Brooklyn came from Iowa). The place will still feel homey, said Powers, but it will have a bit more polish than the existing venues.
The plan is to serve Neapolitan-style pizza. There will be a full-scale restaurant/kitchen setup. While some live acoustic music is envisioned, the Gutter on the Lower East Side is not meant to be a performance venue. Powers said the build-out will take five or six months once the Department of Buildings signs off on the plans. He’s hoping for a November opening.