Downtown SLO won't get a bowling alley, concert venue after all

Plans for a three-story entertainment center that featured a bowling alley, restaurant, game room and concert venue in the heart of downtown San Luis Obispo have been called off.

A contentious business relationship between the building's owner, Jamestown Premier SLO Retail, and the group planning to develop and run the center, Discovery SLO, has ended.

Discovery SLO is no longer the tenant of the commercial building at the corner of Marsh and Chorro streets, and the developers say they will now look to build elsewhere in the city.

Jamestown instead now is planning to build a new mixed-use project that would include upscale apartments, office space for technology companies, and retail shops at ground level, company officials said.

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A planned entertainment hub at 1144 Chorro St. in downtown San Luis Obispo has been abandoned. Joe Johnston

Jamestown issued a statement in response to inquiries from The Tribune on Tuesday, saying the company "does not have a lease with Discovery SLO" at the 24,500-square-foot building at 1144 Chorro St.

"(Jamestown) has submitted plans for a redevelopment of the property at the corner of Marsh and Chorro streets in downtown San Luis Obispo," the company told The Tribune in a statement. "We are looking forward to working through the entitlement process with the city to create this new community asset."

San Luis Obispo planning officials said that an application for a 75-foot-tall mixed-use building at the 1144 Chorro St. site was submitted to the city late Tuesday, but they hadn't yet had a chance to review the details of the proposal.

Jeremy Pemberton, a partner in the planned Discovery SLO entertainment center project, confirmed his company is no longer a tenant at 1144 Chorro and said that his group will still seek to build an entertainment hub at another site in San Luis Obispo.

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The building at 1144 Chorro St. in San Luis Obispo, where a planned entertainment center was scratched. Joe Johnston

"We have ambitious plans to open 30 or more Discovery locations (nationally) in the next 20 years," Pemberton said in a statement. "We are confident SLO will participate in our vision and look forward to it.”

Pemberton stated that the decision to pull out of the downtown project was caused by a combination of development factors, including "conditions and restrictions imposed on the project and limitations on future operations including required closing hours, all of which negatively impacted potential economic return."

"The highest concern of all participants with the project was ensuring public acceptance of the location and public safety," Pemberton added. "Unfortunately, we faced unforeseen life safety upgrades requiring seismic upgrades to the property to accommodate the capacity required by California Building Code for a viable concert venue.”

Representatives of Jamestown, an international real estate company with more than $10 billion in assets and offices throughout the country, did not respond to questions from The Tribune about why the entertainment center project was set aside, saying in an email, "We cannot comment further at this time."

Jamestown filed a lawsuit against Discovery SLO on April 25, 2017, claiming the business operated by Jeremy and Joshua Pemberton had failed to pay rent for more than a year and owed Jamestown at least $750,000.

The monthly rent was $51,490 for the property as of January 2017, according to the lawsuit.

In a photo from April 2017, Discovery SLO developer Jeremy Pemberton inspects the building at 1144 Chorro St., which was planned to include bowling, music, games, food and a speakeasy. The project was called off and an investor sued him. Joe Johnston

The case is scheduled for dismissal on July 30, according to court records. Neither side has directly addressed publicly how the legal action is being resolved.

"As with any civil filing in our court system, any party can make claim or filing at their discretion," Pemberton told The Tribune. "No judgment was awarded. We have since arrived at a mutual agreement to pursue new development plans that meet our respective goals and objectives.”

The proposed project for 1144 Chorro was approved after a city planning process in 2015. It was modeled partly after a similar operation in Ventura owned by Pemberton's group.

The building, former home of Sports Authority, Copeland's Sporting Goods and Riley's Department Store, has been vacant since 2012.

Pemberton told The Tribune in early April 2017 that the project was set for construction to begin within a month.

The planned Chorro Street entertainment hub was also to include a game room and bars in multiple rooms throughout the complex, functioning as a centrally located hub for people of all ages.

Nick Wilson: 805-781-7922; @NickWilsonTrib