A flurry of activity followed a recent revelation that the 82-year-old Montrose Bowl bowling alley is up for sale. Concerned residents in the last few weeks phoned the Realtor handling the sale and the local historical society hoping to stave off a demolition. Also, Facebook comments piled up.
The rumors are true. The 1950s-themed bowling alley is listed for roughly $3.4 million on Loopnet. The listing is just shy of a year old.
Four or five prospective buyers have expressed interest, but no one has moved forward, according to real estate agent Ludwig Parsamian, who is assisting with the sale of the property.
The goal is to preserve the underlying second-generation bowling business that opened in 1936, but there’s nothing ensuring its survival, Parsamian said.
“If someone wants to buy it and modernize it, why not?” Parsamian said.
Owner Bob Berger declined to discuss any aspect of the sale except to point out that the property and the business he took over from his father has actually been listed for sale for years.
“It’s no one’s business but mine and my family’s,” Berger said.
In 2007, Berger took over the business his family had purchased in 1981. Mostly closed for public bowling, the alley in recent years has been primarily functioning as a space for private events and filming.
On Thursday, a student film crew worked inside the vintage bowling alley.
It was one of the crew’s seven full days of filming at the venue and “in general, it’s been staying busy,” according to Montrose film liaison Steve Pierce.
The orange-and-aqua motif, red vinyl seats and lack of electronic score-keeping equipment draws productions looking for an authentic visage of a bygone era.
Notably, the alley has been featured as a backdrop in “Teen Wolf” (1985) starring Michael J. Fox, “Frankie and Johnny” (1991) with Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino, and, most recently, Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys” (2014).
“Clint Eastwood was sitting right outside the Montrose Bowl in his little chair,” recalled Mary Dawson, owner of nearby clothing store Revelation Tops.
“It’s such an iconic spot on Montrose,” Dawson added. “I don’t think anyone would like to see that disappear.”
The 1998 movie "Pleasantville," meant to invoke a 1950s-era atmosphere, resulted in the current decor, Berger told the L.A. Times in 2014. When the bowling alley was redesigned to fit the theme for the film, Berger’s father, Robert, decided to keep it.
According to Pierce, who is a friend of Berger’s, the $3-million price tag may preclude a sale from going through, and, he said, that may be the point.
“It’s like trying to sell your car for $100,000,” Pierce said.
Steve Hunt, president of the Glendale Historical Society, said the organization has recently fielded inquiries about the alley’s history and status.
In terms of the bowl’s potential for recognition as a historical landmark, “from what I’ve seen … it certainly sounds like it would it qualify,” Hunt said, adding that the society is willing to offer advice and guidance with the process of making the bowl a landmark, though it wouldn’t lead the charge.
Hunt said the inquiries stopped when a woman who identified herself as a spokeswoman for the bowl posted a comment on a Facebook page called Vintage Glendale that Berger would only sell to people willing to carry on the business as it is. The self-identified spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.