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Transforming a Big Box Into a Big Dream

Ever wondered what it takes to convert an old building into an entirely new facility from the ground up? It’s always exciting to see that transformation, and we’re just about to begin the process with our latest renovation project for The Sportsman’s Shop in New Holland. The project involves converting a 25,000-square-foot bowling alley into a retail store and outdoor center, including a firing range.

From Dreaming to Demo: Phase 1

Like every construction project, this one began with a vision. Only it wasn’t just the vision of The Sportsman’s Shop’s owner, Joe Keffer—it started with his customers. Over the years, many had expressed an interest in having a facility where they could practice shooting and take part in training programs, neither of which was possible in the company’s existing facilities. Joe wanted a building that could launch The Sportsman’s Shop into a whole new level of services and offerings. The former site of Blue Ball Lanes offered the right location and space, but everything else needed to be redesigned from the alleys up.

Former site of Blue Ball Lanes
Former site of Blue Ball Lanes

Project Manager Steve Gerhart worked with the client and our drafting team to reimagine the bowling alley as a full-service outdoor center with a firing range, training center and retail space. They created plans and then partnered with an architect to complete the designs and ensure that the project would meet all local codes and permit requirements.

This month, we began extensive interior demolition. “Over the next few weeks we’ll be stripping the inside—floors, ceilings, HVAC, electricity, everything,” Steve said. “The building has multiple ceilings from renovations over the years, and we have to take all that down.”

From Bowling Pins to Firing Pins

The biggest challenge with this renovation is the firing range. Because the lanes are close to retail and office spaces, the range needs to be secure and soundproof. Firing ranges also present unique HVAC challenges, requiring proper air flow to prevent lead and gunpowder buildup. “The owner has been in business selling firearms and ammunition for years and has made a name for himself, but he’s never done a firing range,” Steve said. “Because of our extensive experience with hotels, we’re familiar with sound deadening, which is helpful. But the range has posed some unique technical challenges for our team.”

The new facility will feature a dozen firing range lanes. “Once demolition is complete, we will be cutting into the cement floors to create footers for the lane walls,” Steve said.

A New Entrance and Interior

The renovation will also include a new entrance with a sloped roof and a more rustic feel to reflect the business’s outdoor theme.

Inside, the renovation calls for a trending industrial look that features exposed ceilings and mechanicals and polished concrete floors. “It’s a sharp look that goes well with their type of business,” Steve said.

The Value of Repurposing “Big Boxes”

Repurposing an existing industrial or commercial building is a great way to conserve land, building materials and other valuable resources and can save businesses money over building from scratch. There are many “big box” facilities out there in every community—big, square industrial and commercial buildings that have many useful years of life left in them. With a vision and some careful technical planning, they can be transformed for just about any purpose.

Stay tuned here to see more photos of this Weaver work in progress, and find out what it takes to repurpose an old building for a whole new life.

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