Plans progress for new DeKalb family fun center

Laundromat portion may open by fall; bowling alley, restaurant in next year

DeKALB – A laundromat could open on DeKalb's South Fourth Street within the next three or four months, with an attached bowling alley, arcade and restaurant to come next year, property owner Jim Mason said Monday.

Preliminary construction is underway, but Mason still needs building permits from the city for construction, heating and air conditioning, an electrician and plumber. The property, formerly a Sullivan's Foods store, will also include a bowling alley and restaurant collectively called Lapalooza Family Fun Center DeKalb.

Mason said a 13-lane bowling alley, which will include an arcade, isn't expected to open until next year. He said he still needs to finish the building blueprints for city officials to review. After that, the city's plan commission will meet to discuss zoning classifications and, pending DeKalb City Council approval, Mason can order the necessary equipment.

"This is not like building a house," Mason said. "It's a commercial deal. It's very complicated."

DeKalb City Planner Derek Hiland said Mason's Fourth Street property would be classified as planned commercial development if the City Council approves it because it involves various uses all under one roof. The Walmart at 2300 Sycamore Road, DeKalb, is an example of a planned commercial development, Hiland said.

If the City Council approves the property as a planned commercial development, the plans would all be grouped together as one ordinance, speeding the process to get everything approved. Mason purchased the building at 1401 S. Fourth St. in January.

The laundromat will have washers as large as 90 pounds and four washers that weigh 80 pounds. There will be about 70 washers, 120 dryers and five video gambling machines, Mason said. Beer and wine will be sold at the laundromat.

Drivers will be able to drop off and pick up clothes for customers, Mason said.

Mason also wants to have a drive-through lane where customers can pick up their clothes and even purchase a cup of Mace Coffee, Mason's own brand of coffee.

"I will make it so it's as good or better than Starbucks," he said. "The coffee, I hope, is bigger than Lapalooza itself."

There will also be five more video slot machines at the bowling alley, private rooms for parties, TVs and two brick-fired ovens that can produce 150 pizzas per hour, Mason said. A rotisserie cooker will make chicken, he said.

Fifth Third Bank will have an ATM on the north side of the property.

Mason said he also plans to offer a bowling competition called "Bowling for Cash." Bowlers will compete seven days a week for cash prizes of up to $1,000. Winners will be determined based off a formula that will depend on how much someone bowls, Mason said.

"The more you bowl, the better it is," he said.

The Lapalooza parking lot will hold up to 300 cars. There will also be WiFi and merchandise such as T-shirts for sale. Mason is also considering having pool tables.

Altogether, both the bowling alley and laundromat will be 30,000 square feet. Mason said there will be less than 50 employees.

Mason said he is working with four different consultants on the project.

"This is a big deal for the city," he said.

What's next

DeKalb businessman Jim Mason said a laundromat on South Fourth Street could open in three or four months. City officials are expected to vote on zoning classifications for the property after Mason receives a building permit.