Business

Downtown SLO bowling alley, entertainment center construction to begin

Discovery SLO’s vision: Bowling alley, concerts, food and more — all in one spot

Jeremy Pemberton, managing partner of the Discovery SLO on Chorro Street in downtown San Luis Obispo, talks on April 7, 2017, about what the new entertainment center will look like. Construction is expected to start soon.
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Jeremy Pemberton, managing partner of the Discovery SLO on Chorro Street in downtown San Luis Obispo, talks on April 7, 2017, about what the new entertainment center will look like. Construction is expected to start soon.

Within about a month, construction will begin on a long-awaited entertainment center in downtown San Luis Obispo that will feature a bowling alley, game room, live music concert hall, bars, restaurant and speakeasy and that aims to attract more than 300,000 people a year.

Jeremy Pemberton, managing partner of Discovery SLO, said his ownership group has finalized contracts with the builder, JW Design & Construction, and expects to start construction within 40 days.

The planning of the new center at Marsh and Chorro streets in downtown San Luis Obispo started two years ago and completed the city’s approval process in November. The project went through six discretionary hearings, including two appeals, after review by various city advisory bodies.

Our Discovery Ventura site gets about 120,000 to 130,000 visitors each year. We expect that to triple here.

Jeremy Pemberton, Discovery SLO managing partner

Construction is expected to be finished by October in time to open before the holiday season.

“Our Discovery Ventura site gets about 120,000 to 130,000 visitors each year,” Pemberton said. “We expect that to triple here.”

Pemberton said the center’s downtown San Luis Obispo location, proximity to foot traffic and its selling point as the “largest indoor entertainment facility in the entire county” will attract more customers than its Ventura site, which has been successful in an area of the city that isn’t pedestrian-friendly.

Pemberton isn’t disclosing the cost to overhaul the 28,000-square-foot building, including a walled-off concert venue of about 4,000 square feet that will hold 600 people. The site will have a total occupancy of 1,608 people. A Sports Authority store used to occupy the building at 1144 Chorro St.

The investors lease the building from Jamestown Properties, which owns other buildings in the downtown area.

28,000 Square footage of Discovery SLO building

Discovery SLO was required to pay an in-lieu parking fee that will go into a city fund set aside for parking. The city has discussed adding a parking garage for the overall downtown area.

The Discovery SLO facility was designed by RRM Design Group.

Discovery SLO will be located on three floors, including a ground floor for six bowling lanes, dining and cocktails, with a concert hall and stage; a second-floor mezzanine for five more bowling lanes, a room for private events and corporate meetings; a game-centric area with darts, bocce ball, billiards, shuffleboard, karaoke, pingpong and more; and a basement for a speakeasy featuring a VIP members access program.

Pemberton expects to book artists from “every genre out there,” including Willie Nelson, Jeff Bridges, Los Lonely Boys and Los Lobos.

Pemberton said the center, with soundproofed walls, will have top-of-the-line acoustics and a private entrance for the artists, but guests can still make their way over to the bowling alley and game room through side doors.

“We have learned what works and how to make it better, having done this before in Ventura,” Pemberton said. “You won’t hear the crashing of the pins from the (walled off) concert area one bit.”

1,608 Room capacity for visitors of Discovery SLO

The business will be open seven days a week from morning until midnight, despite initial efforts to stay open until 2 a.m.

The concert venue will hold about 600 people and be separated by a soundproofed wall from the bowling alley and game room. The center will use longtime local music promoters Good Medicine Presents and Numbskull Productions, as well as an in-house representative, to line up shows.

Discovery SLO expects four to five acts per week, including music, comedy and other entertainment-related events, even wrestling.

The facility will have a restaurant with a gourmet menu and California cuisine menu and four different bars, including the speakeasy where reservations will be required and nonmembers will need to check their cellphones. Members will have special privileges, including early access to concert tickets.

The financing for the project is secure, Pemberton assured, saying that the 10 people who make up the ownership group are conducting a final fundraising push to cover any unexpected costs that may arise. He declined to name the other nine investors pending a later announcement.

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