After $1.4M sale, Wildwood Lanes will be turned into a church

The Wildwood Bowling Center in Northampton, which has been closed for several months, will soon become a church. 

The Iglesia Pentecostal Familia de Dios, which currently operates from an office building at 400 West Main St. in Riverhead, recently purchased the property for $1.4 million and will soon begin converting it into a house of worship, according to church secretary Sergio Cifuentes. 

“We plan to make a transformation,” he said. “It will have the same look, but it will be a church. It’s bigger than what we have now. We’re going to get rid of the bowling alleys.”

Mr. Cifuentes said they are working on potential changes to the site now and expect to submit plans to Southampton Town within two weeks. 

The church’s pastor, Daniel Orellana, said church leaders hope to create a sanctuary in place of the lanes. He said the restaurant could still be of use to the church, but they hope to turn the former bar area into classrooms for Sunday school. 

They also have plans to convert the second level of the building into meeting and conference rooms. The church’s goal is to is to open by the end of this year.

“If we got the approval [from the town] this month, if we work hard, we can have the place ready for the end of September,” Mr. Orellana said. “The desire is to inaugurate it — if we can’t do it like we thought we would by end of August or beginning of September— finish by the end of that month or if not by the end of the year.”

According to Mr. Orellana, funds for this purchase came from the congregation’s offerings and tithe, which the church has been collecting since the its founding in 1999.

The church sees this building as a pathway to a future, permanent home they hope to build on 8.6 acres in Aquebogue, which it purchased about five years ago for roughly $675,000, Mr. Orellana said.

As a long-term goal, the church hopes to save the money it would be paying in rent by purchasing the bowling alley. Once adequate funds are acquired, construction will begin on the Aquebogue property. 

“The hope is, when we can, we’ll make the needed savings to create our building as we imagine it on the 8.6-acre parcel,” he said. “The desire is for that to be the final location.”

Mr. Orellana said a timeline for when that project might begin remains unclear. 

Some area residents are sorry to see the bowling alley go.

“I’m sad to see something that’s been here since 1957 disappear,” said Chris Sheldon, who lives nearby and whose father, Leonard , designed the bowling alley. 

“We had hoped that the town would take it over and use it as a recreation center,” Mr. Sheldon said, “but they were limited by how much they could spend.”