Chattanooga developer John Wise wasn't the first person to raise the idea of building a bowling alley downtown, but an earlier proposal never worked out.
"I did a little traveling and fell in love with the concept and decided to do it," said Wise, whose Southside Social bowling alley has brought the sport to the center city after what he heard is an absence of some three generations.
Wise's new 10-lane bowling alley is part of a multi-use entertainment complex he has raised over the past year or so on Chestnut Street across from Finley Stadium, and more is planned.
Wise said Thursday he is eyeing up to 120 apartments, in addition to other mixed-use food and entertainment venues on adjacent property he has brought. He said he has purchased a 40,000-square-foot warehouse that he plans to convert to mixed use.
Wise estimates he has invested about $4 million into existing projects with new ones valued at about $8 million more.
"The area is ripe," he said. "The Southside has a lot of vibe."
Matt Hill of Chattanooga was at the Southside Social on Thursday after he said he couldn't get in the prior weekend because of the crowd.
"It's a new place," said Hill, who was with friends prepping for a weekend wedding. He said they planned to bowl and take part in other activities there such as ping pong and billiards. "The cool thing is everything else [except bowling] is free."
IF YOU GO
What: Southside Social
Where: 1818 Chestnut St.
When: Opens at 4 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. Saturday-Sunday
Cost: $35 an hour to bowl
Source: Southside Social
The new facilities are next door to year-old The Jump Park, which offers about 20,000-square-feet of trampolines. In addition, the Chattanooga Brewing Co. has moved into new operations where it's producing beer.
River City Co. chief Kim White said her nonprofit downtown redevelopment group had weighed a bowling alley at The Block near the Tennessee Aquarium before deciding on a rock climbing destination and commercial space.
"Wise is doing cool concepts," she said, adding that UTC students are interested in the Chestnut Street offerings.
Along with bowling, a new full-service restaurant specializing in barbecue has opened at the site and three bars. In addition to billiards and ping pong, there's skee ball, shuffleboard, games and an outdoor courtyard with casual seating, fire pits, bocce ball court, and horse shoes.
Wise said he sees the entertainment complex as "kind of a custom-built Dave & Buster's," citing the popular Dallas-based business.
Ladonna Woodward, general manager for The Jump Park, said the developments are energizing that part of the Southside.
"It has brought a lot of families to the area," she said.
Woodward said the bowling alley's first weekend was a hit.
"It has exceeded our expectations," she said.
Also on the Southside, Wise is building a mixed-use apartment and retail building not far away at Market and Main streets.
Wise Properties is putting up a four-story, $7 million complex that will include 60 apartment units as well as 10,000-square-feet of retail space on the ground level.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318.