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Iconic Queens bowling alley faces closure to make way for affordable housing

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Residents in the vicinity of Whitestone Lanes in Queens are expressing dismay over the potential closure of the beloved bowling alley, a longstanding fixture in the community. The property’s fate hangs in the balance as discussions loom regarding its conversion into a nine-story apartment building featuring affordable housing units.

While the City Council greenlit a rezoning development plan in February, a spokesperson for the family-owned establishment emphasized that no final decisions have been reached regarding its future.

For many, including high school bowler George Walsh, Whitestone Lanes holds immense sentimental value. Walsh, 15, who frequented the alley regularly for practice, views it as an integral part of his routine and identity. Reflecting on his longstanding passion for the sport, Walsh lamented the potential loss, underscoring the venue’s significance as a community hub since the 1960s.

Bruce Slutsky, a longtime resident of Flushing, echoes the sentiments of many locals, expressing sadness at the prospect of losing an iconic establishment. Having bowled at Whitestone with his father since childhood, Slutsky initiated a petition years ago to halt the proposed construction project, citing concerns ranging from increased congestion to exacerbated school overcrowding. Despite his efforts, the project continues to move forward, driven by the pressing need for affordable housing solutions in the area.

Community Board 7 vice chair Chuck Apelian views the redevelopment project as a necessary step forward amid ongoing discussions surrounding the property’s utilization. Emphasizing the critical need for affordable housing amidst a housing crisis, Apelian underscores the significance of repurposing the space to meet the community’s evolving needs. With the rezoning approval in place, the stage is set for the transformation of the cherished gathering space into vital residential accommodations.

While the zoning approval signals a potential shift in the landscape of the neighborhood, the owners caution that negotiations are ongoing, leaving room for uncertainty regarding the final outcome. Despite the looming possibility of Whitestone Lanes giving way to residential units, Slutsky remains hopeful, albeit resigned to the potential loss. As the community braces for change, the future of this iconic Queens landmark hangs in the balance, leaving residents to grapple with the prospect of bidding farewell to a cherished institution in exchange for much-needed affordable housing solutions.

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