By Karen Gadbois, The Lens staff writer |
To paraphrase the golden oldie: “Rock ‘n Bowl is Here to Stay” – the trendy bowling alley and live music venue, that is.
Not only has Rock ‘n Bowl survived its 2009 move to the corner of Carrollton and Earhart, it seems to be taking over the neighborhood, residents say.
On Monday, the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee will meet to discuss club owner John Blancher’s ambition to tear down two of four houses still standing in the block dominated by Rock ’n Bowl and Ye Olde College Inn, a restaurant owned by Blancher’s sons-in-law and his son, Johnny Jr.
All told, Blancher and his kin own eight properties in the block, including the old Helm Paint building, which houses the club. In addition, Blancher has purchased five residential lots across Fig Street left vacant after the Pritchard Place/ Carrollton Avenue fire in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. These have become de facto parking lots for restaurant and club patrons.
The houses he seeks permission to tear down are on lots that will be added to the parking lot, Blancher said. The application says the demolished housing will give way to “green space,” Blancher said, based on his intention to let grass grow between paved areas of he parking lot and leave a fruit tree standing.
“The two buildings have been something of a problem,” Blancher said, alluding to tenant turnover. He described the structures, which appear to be in good repair, as “a potential pocket of crime.” Eliminating them “would kill two birds with one stone,” he said.
Neighbors are not so sure. Above all, they want to see a comprehensive development plan, said Jenel Hazlett, president of the Northwest Carrollton Neighborhood Association. Meanwhile, Hazlett sees use of the empty lots for parking and to situate a large shipping container as illegal.
“While he figures out his plan he seems comfortable bending or breaking the law,” Hazlett said.
Karen Gadbois was a founding member of the Northwest Carrollton Neighborhood Association.