White Rock Skate Center to close next month

White Rock Skate Center to close next month

White Rock Skate Center owner Chuck Connor says the sale of his property — a 20,000 square foot, 43-year-old building built by Chuck’s dad sitting on about two acres — was to a developer that’s been asking him to sell for many years now.

“We had been thinking about it over the years,” says Connor, who is known for never missing a day of work since the 1970s.

His wife Laura adds that she is ready to spend a weekend night with her husband for once, a New Year’s Eve even.

They plan to hop on their Harley-Davidson or sporty convertible and travel the countryside, though there is much sadness and a few tears — from Laura, definitely, and I think I see Chuck’s eyes fill a time or two, especially when they talk about all the old friends and employees who have contacted them since last Friday night, when we reported the imminent closing.

“My phone blew up that night,” Laura says, using the lingo of the neighborhood high schoolers with whom the couple so closely work.

But we’ll get more to the nostalgia in a later story.

First let’s discuss this developer.

The guy Chuck’s referring to is Stuart Jones. You might recall that in 2008: Jones’ American Brownfields Corporation requested a zoning change from commercial retail to mixed use on roughly four acres at the corner of Shoreview and Ferndale (right next door to the roller rink’s land). Jones asked to replace the old shopping center on the northeast corner with an upscale, mid-rise apartment complex … plus 60,000 square feet of retail or office space. The L Streets and Lake Ridge Estates homeowners associations at the time supported the proposed change, and the City Plan Commission passed it unanimously.

Vacant Shoreview properties

Vacant Shoreview properties

Other neighbors voiced concern at a City Council meeting, but this rezoning to Planned Development 779 passed that year.  And it allows for everything from multifamily and single family residences to ambulatory services, nursing home, schools, alcoholic beverage establishments (that would require a special use permit) and other types of restaurants and entertainment facilities.

At the time, after rumors of a high-rise condominium building surfaced, the developer via comment on the old Advocate website told the neighborhood that the PD includes height restrictions — “All structures must comply with the Residential Proximity Slope (RPS).  This is a 3:1 slope that protects single-family property from having tall buildings tower over their homes … .  The PD, as proposed, will restrict the allowable heights to specific areas and restrict the overall height of any structure to 95 feet.”

In 2009 the same developer, now under the LLC Shoreview Viola, requested to amend and expand the zoning to include the land that occupies TCC Credit Union, as well as White Rock Skate Center.

I’ve put a call into Jones, who is out of the country, according to his assistant, and have sent him an email requesting updates. I’ve also put in messages to our councilman, the City’s development office and the pastor at the one remaining tenant in the initial PD, a small community church, and I will update this post as new intel comes in.

At the time of the 2009 rezoning request (the rink is still zoned community retail, based on city records), Connor said he had no intention of selling the family business.

Now that the Connors have decided to sell — I asked, but Chuck would not say for how much — we are working hard to learn more about what will become of the property.

The Connors say this is the absolute hardest thing they have ever done, and they will stay busy but, no doubt, will struggle emotionally through the next month. They will close at 5 p.m. Oct. 16 and then will hold a private affair for all current and ex-employees, police security who have helped them and family that night.

They expect to take about a month to gather their things and vacate.

“I am not in the loop on what they are going to do with the building or the property,” Chuck says.

To those who have offered to save the rink — and people have come forward offering to do just that, both to me (I passed along the message) and them — he says it’s a done deal. The paperwork has not all been filed, but it’s done.

We’ve reported much lately regarding business in this area — Central Market/HEB recently purchased the grocer across the street, and the retail landscape is changing.

Much more to come on White Rock Skate Center and Shoreview development.

Did you work at White Rock Skate Center, have a great memory or pics from the past? Email chughes@advocatemag.com