Pohlman Lanes soon becoming family entertainment place

Credit: Journal News

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Pohlman Lanes Family Entertainment Complex

Credit: Journal News

Aid from city to help upgrade older buildings helped bowling alley afford surprise fire-system need

HAMILTON — Jeff Pohlman planned to transform Pohlman Lanes on Pyramid Hill Boulevard into Pohlman Lanes & Family Entertainment Complex, but didn’t realize he would need to add a fire-suppression system to meet current building codes.

If Hamilton’s city government hadn’t created a program to help businesses upgrade older buildings for new purposes, “the project was going to be put on hold for quite some time,” Pohlman said.

“We eliminated 16 of the (32) bowling lanes — I put flooring up over top of them,” converting it to an event center, with a stage where entertainers can perform and people can have parties, Pohlman said.

“We actually had to shut down 5,000 square feet of the space — we weren’t allowed to use it until we became compliant with the current codes,” he said. “To be delayed on it for a while was quite a shock.”

The expanded entertainment center should be fully running in late February, with areas where people can host parties for graduations and birthdays, where adults and children can have fun together with music, bowling, corn hole, a golf simulator and meeting rooms. It also offers sand volleyball.

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Barry Moran and Ruth Templeton dance to the music of Standard Country Time Band at Pohlman Lanes Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022 in Hamilton. Pohlman Lanes has turned some of their bowling lanes into multi-use space with a stage, tables and room for dancing and other activities. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Barry Moran and Ruth Templeton dance to the music of Standard Country Time Band at Pohlman Lanes Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022 in Hamilton. Pohlman Lanes has turned some of their bowling lanes into multi-use space with a stage, tables and room for dancing and other activities. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

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Barry Moran and Ruth Templeton dance to the music of Standard Country Time Band at Pohlman Lanes Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022 in Hamilton. Pohlman Lanes has turned some of their bowling lanes into multi-use space with a stage, tables and room for dancing and other activities. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

“After numerous meetings with city officials, they told us about this program that they were initiating,” said Pohlman, who will own the 28,000-square-foot facility three years in March.

That program helps pay up to 25 percent of costs for upgrading buildings, particularly those on primary business corridors, with such things as hoods that are required for modern restaurant kitchen stoves and improvements necessary to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Hamilton City Council put $450,000 into the program late last year, and the bowling alley/entertainment facility was one of the first two businesses to receive approval.

The costs of the suppression system and alarm system will be about $150,000, he said, of which the city will pay 25 percent. He declined to reveal the total renovation cost, but said the $150,000 is “a small fraction” of those expenses. He said it shouldn’t take too long to regain a return on his investment. The alley has no league nights, so all lanes are open to people seven days a week.

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Pohlman Lanes owner Jeff Pohlman, left, and general manager Joe Hoelle stand near the stage area Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. Pohlman Lanes has turned some of their bowling lanes into multi-use space with a stage, tables and room for dancing and other activities. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Pohlman Lanes owner Jeff Pohlman, left, and general manager Joe Hoelle stand near the stage area Wednesday,  Jan. 12, 2022. Pohlman Lanes has turned some of their bowling lanes into multi-use space with a stage, tables and room for dancing and other activities. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

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Pohlman Lanes owner Jeff Pohlman, left, and general manager Joe Hoelle stand near the stage area Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. Pohlman Lanes has turned some of their bowling lanes into multi-use space with a stage, tables and room for dancing and other activities. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Lauren Nelson, a city economic development project manager, said Hamilton’s non-profit Community Improvement Corporation has approved assistance to two projects — Pohlman’s, and Sarah Dankhoff’s soon-to-open store at 127 N. 2nd St., that will be called Wildfire Hygge Home. She is converting a former law-office building there to a shop and is spending about $20,000 to help with ADA access issues and fire codes, so can be about $5,000.

Dankhoff already has another store location, Wildfire Hygge Goods, original location, at 226 High St., and that store will remain open. The new store will sell larger items, such as furniture and accent lighting, than are available at the High Street shop.

City staff also is reviewing four other applications, and have spoken with at least two other businesses interested in the program, Nelson said.

“We have seen a need with our older building stock in town, and there’s a lot of opportunity for great commercial renovations, but they’re pretty costly,” Nelson said. “And so, this program is really intended to help with some of those larger-ticket items that we know are barriers for people jumping in to take on these projects.”

ExploreWildfire shop in Hamilton expanding to add more home furnishings
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Wildfire Hygge Goods purchased a former law-office building on North 2nd Street it is renovating to expand the business. This is what it looked like in September. Wildfire Home and Gifts is its current location on High Street, and will remain open, selling smaller items than the furniture and other accessories that will be available at the 2nd Street shop. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Wildfire Hygge Goods purchased a former law-office building on North 2nd Street it is renovating to expand the business. This is what it looked like in September. Wildfire Home and Gifts is its current location on High Street, and will remain open, selling smaller items than the furniture and other accessories that will be available at the 2nd Street shop. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

caption arrowCaption
Wildfire Hygge Goods purchased a former law-office building on North 2nd Street it is renovating to expand the business. This is what it looked like in September. Wildfire Home and Gifts is its current location on High Street, and will remain open, selling smaller items than the furniture and other accessories that will be available at the 2nd Street shop. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Decisions on which businesses receive money will be weighed using several criteria, including whether they create jobs, increase tourism, create new or expanded amenities for city residents, and increase the tax base.

“I’m not happy we had to make the investment, but I’m pleased we were at least get some assistance from the city to offset the costs and make it a little bit manageable,” Pohlman said. “But it’s still a large expense to have to incur.”

For more information about the program, people can contact Nelson at lauren.nelson@hamilton-oh.gov or 513-785-7278.

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