Masons plan to open ‘fun center’

By Keisha Howerth

Mason Properties has plans to build a bowling alley, restaurant and laundromat on South Fourth Street.

Owner Jim Mason and co-owner Linda Mason want to put a family fun and college center in place of the former Sullivan’s Foods on South Fourth Street.

Mason said he’s still talking with city officials about the plans for the building on 1401 S. Fourth St. Mason said construction won’t start for another eight weeks.

“It will change the way people entertain themselves in DeKalb,” Jim Mason said. “There’s something in there for everyone.”

Mason said he’d like to open part of the building as a restaurant and bowling alley, and another part as a laundromat. About 6,000 square feet of the building would become a laundromat with about 120 dryers and 100 washing machines.

“The bowling alley would be 12,000 square feet and contain 13 lanes,” Mason said. “I also plan to add meeting and party rooms, arcade games and gambling machines.”

Roger Hopkins, the city’s economic development consultant, said the building has been vacant for almost five years. Hopkins said Mason’s plans show a major statement of confidence in the southern DeKalb area.

“There aren’t too many options for meeting rooms and entertainment,” Hopkins said. “It will be beneficial, and it should bring in more people to that area.”

During the fall, spring and summer, fraternities and sororities can bowl for cash prizes, Mason said. The format would be similar to March Madness brackets.

Though there’s been some concern over the building’s proximity to the middle schools, Mason said it’s not too close. Mason said middle schools are welcome to come to the bowling alleys and hold their gym classes there.

Hopkins said he hopes Mason’s plans serve as encouragement for other development on South Fourth Street such as at the former Kentucky Fried Chicken, 922 S. Fourth St., and the Protano Auto property, 1151 S. Fourth St.

Junior psychology major Brenna Lowery said she thinks the family fun and college center is a good idea and would give students more options for entertainment and places to study.

“The 24-hour laundromat is a good idea because students have really busy schedules and don’t always have time during the day,” Lowery said.