ELKHART — Rainbo Lanes Bowling Center, 2401 Middlebury St., was sold Tuesday evening. Or maybe not.
The top bid of $305,000 at an auction of the iconic pink building was less than a court-approved minimum, said auctioneer Brad Hooley. That means the offer must be approved by a local judge for the sale to be final.
For that reason, the man who offered the high bid declined to identify himself after the auction or say what he might do with the facility, which includes 32 bowling lanes, bowling balls, pins and shoes, a room full of pool tables, a bar complete with kitchen and a three-way liquor license.
“It’s not a done deal,” the high bidder said.
The first bid was for $100,000 and the amount gradually grew over the course of about an hour.
“Many people have had a lot of fun here,” Hooley said just before opening the bidding. When the bidding stalled temporarily at $265,000, he said, “It’s a fixture of Elkhart, for cryin’ out loud.”
The late Ronald W. Grose opened the business in 1963 and operated it for more than 40 years.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Rainbo Lanes was open 24 hours a day. Second-shift workers at local factories bowled in leagues there that started play at midnight. It remained in operation until earlier this year.
The 33,700-square-foot structure and the nearly 3 acres on which it sits are zoned for manufacturing, which means a new owner could renovate the building and use it for production or for office space if he or she isn’t interested in running a bowling and billiards business.
In addition to Rainbo Lanes, a house owned by Grose at 701 Graywood Ave. was up for sale at Tuesday’s auction. The bungalow, built in 1996, is on 13 acres, which include a pond stocked with fish. The top bid for the residential property was $125,000, which Hooley said also was under the court-approved minimum.
The bids for both sites will be taken to Elkhart Superior Court 2 “and we’ll see where we go with that,” Hooley said.