The old Douglas Avenue Bowling Alley, 1824 Charles St., is expected to get a face lift and several new tenants by October. Building owners Joanne and Jeff Raffini bought the building because they had a good experience with the Discover Douglas Avenue business improvement district when they opened Bella Cibo, 3751 Douglas Avenue. Jeff bought the building from Nielsen Building Systems to house some of the supplies from his business, Action Distribution, a stocking distributor of packaging and shipping material. That’s when everything else fell into place. He realized that his daughter Nicole Raffini and her business business partner Phillip Antony, who own CrossFit Racine, were looking for a new place. And the owner of Wayside Construction, a concrete contractor, needed space to store equipment. “When we opened the restaurant, I was very encouraged by Douglas Ave BID board who worked with us and helped promote Bella Cibo,” Jeff said. “When the building came up for sale at the right price, I thought that it was one of the problem buildings in the area, but the buildings around it are still in good condition. This building just needs TLC.” Jeff plans to upgrade the façade, repair the roof, and paint the outside of the building. He just received a recommendation for a conditional use permit from the Racine Planning Commission and is expected to receive final approval for the permit Tuesday, June 16 from the Racine Common Council. But he’s also applying for a façade grant through the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Racine next month. The upgrades are expected to be completed by October.   Built in 1949, the Douglas Avenue Bowling Alley closed in 1993 and Delta Electric operated out of the western half of the building, said Matt Sadowski, the city’s principal planner and assistant director of city development for the city of Racine. “We’re starting to see a little more development on the north side with the auto parts store, Dollar General, and Dairy Queen remodel,” Sadowski said. “Douglas Avenue used have everything: car washes, a drive-in, grocery stores — it’s good to see more development happening.”    

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.