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DeKalb businessman plans bowling alley, laundromat for South Fourth Street

DeKALB – A bowling alley, laundromat and a restaurant could come to DeKalb's South Fourth Street area under plans from DeKalb area businessman Jim Mason.

Mason wants to bring a family fun center to the former Sullivan's Foods on South Fourth Street, part of which has been vacant for almost five years. Part of the building is occupied by Dollar General, 1401 S. Fourth St., which would not be affected.

Although his plans are tentative and would require approval from the DeKalb City Council, he would like to open part of the building as a laundromat and another part as a restaurant and bowling alley. Altogether the facility will be called Lapalooza Family Fun Center DeKalb.

Mason said he's had the plans in mind since he purchased the building at 1401 S. Fourth St. in January.

“It's everything people like to do,” Mason said. “It's not expensive, and it's fun.”

He said about 6,000 square feet in the southern portion of the building would become a laundromat with about 120 dryers and 100 washing machines. He envisions the facility as completely walled off from the rest of the building and open 24 hours.

Mason also wants to open a 12,000-square-foot bowling alley in the another portion of the building. It would contain 13 lanes and likely be open from 6 a.m. to midnight. He also plans to add a restaurant, meeting rooms, five to 10 video gambling machines and open a drive-through lane. Food and beverage offerings will include pizza, sandwiches, beer and coffee.

“The atmosphere will be a cross between South Beach and Las Vegas,” Mason said. “This will be done with so much class.”

Mason said he doesn't know when his plans could become reality because he hasn't applied for any permits or submitted any plans to the city, although he is in talks with city officials.

Mason said he does not plan to receive any financial incentives from the city to redevelop the property.

Roger Hopkins, the city of DeKalb's economic development consultant, applauded Mason for pursuing the project without financial assistance. He said the property was No. 1 on the city's list of buildings to be redeveloped in the area since Sullivan's closed in summer 2009.

“Most important of all is it will rejuvenate the whole area of South Fourth Street,” Hopkins said. “We really wanted to see something in there that would appeal to a wide audience.”

Hopkins added the Mason development gives city leaders hope for other development on South Fourth Street such as the abandoned Protano Auto Parts property and the former Kentucky Fried Chicken.

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