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Nightclub proposal strikes out with some locals



Developers of former AlpenRock site want increased seat capacity in licensed club

Instead of more bowling balls in the deserted AlpenRock House, there are plans before council for more highballs.

The development proposal for the huge abandoned bowling alley calls for a transformation from eight bowling lanes to a restaurant, a nightclub, and an eight-screen multiplex movie theatre.

The developer, Larco Investments Ltd., would like approval for an increase in seat capacity for the nightclub, bringing the number from 263 to 375. And at the same time the restaurant capacity is to be reduced from 267 to 100 seats.

But about a dozen locals showed up at a public hearing before Tuesday’s council meeting to speak out against that proposal.

There were bar owners and general managers before councillors, as well as skateboarders and citizens concerned about losing a facility for youths – the bowling alley.

Managers from Garfinkels, Buffalo Bill’s and Tommy Africa’s pleaded their case to council about a bar industry that is already strained.

"Adding" almost 500 seats into the mix will just compound problems in the competitive marketplace, they said.

"What you are talking about will probably decimate the other bars," said the general manager at Tommy Africa’s.

A new high-class nightclub and restaurant with nearly 500 seats doesn’t just effect competitive village bars. The increased capacity will also create noise problems at closing time as well as increase the need for more police in the village when the bars let out, the opponents said.

"While council is very concerned about noise in the village, adding 500 seats will do nothing to decrease the problem," said Dale Schweighardt, general manager of Buffalo Bill’s.

Bill Harrison, general manager at the Whistler Village Inn and Suites, echoed the sentiment about noise.

"We are very concerned from the point of view as accommodation," he said, as the Whistler Village Inn and Suites is next the building.

But proponents say the covered walkway from the entrance will mitigate those concerns.

The nightclub is slated to be a little different than most of the current bars in Whistler. It will cater to the 25 and over crowd.

"I think this is something that we have all waited for for a long time," said Sharon Jensen, a consultant for the project who also read aloud two letters of support for the development.

Jensen also pointed out that the licensed seats already exist, they just weren’t used last winter after AlpenRock went out of business.

The proposed tenant of the restaurant and nightclub is Jack Evrensel, who owns Araxi’s in Whistler as well as three other restaurants in Vancouver.