WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — A Virginia-based upscale bowling alley and entertainment venue chain will be receiving help from the city to move into the former home of Yankee Candle’s flagship store.

The City of Williamsburg announced Thursday that Uptown Alley is hoping to open its fifth location inside the longtime “Candle Village” off Richmond Road sometime in 2023.

Aside from bowling, which is set to include 10-pin and duckpin bowling, the business plans for an arcade with virtual reality, pizza bar, chef-led restaurant and possibly indoor miniature golf on site.

City Council unanimously approved a $600,000 performance-based incentive in a hope the business provides a new option for residents and visitors alike, especially those looking for nightlife options.

The plans call for quite the change from the colonial village type theme the property has held for the better part of two decades.

It was Christmas all year long at Williamsburg’s Yankee Candle store. Fake snow fell, anyone could always make their own candle and it became tradition to get your first photo with Santa Claus there.

Many customers lamented Yankee Candle’s closure in 2021, which was given without explanation. More so, city leaders knew it could be challenging to find a single user for a 65,000-square-foot footprint. In a press release, Mayor Doug Pons called the building “one of the City’s largest commercial assets.”

Luckily Steven Moore, co-founder of Uptown Alley, said his company was looking to enter the market for some time.

“It’s a lot of great uses that we want to put in your community,” Moore said at a recent planning commission meeting. “It’s all geared towards family entertainment and also socially active adults at nighttime to have something to do.”

That last point particularly seemed to strike a chord.

Williamsburg has long been the heart of the Historic Triangle, where attractions such as Jamestown Settlement and Colonial Williamsburg thrive on teaching history to the masses during mostly daytime hours.

Councilman Edward Maslin said Uptown Alley could improve nightlife.

“That is one of the things that we hear from a lot of young adults, that there is nothing going on at night,” Maslin said.

A sketch of what Uptown Alley could look like in the remodeled Yankee Candle “Candle Village” (Courtesy: PSH+)

While Uptown Alley still must get its design and permit approvals from City Council before anything is final, approval was given for the Economic Development Authority to award a performance-based revenue sharing agreement to help with exterior improvements.

Over a five-year period, Uptown Alley will receive a portion of meals and local sales taxes until that amount reaches $600,000, according to a city press release. The local sales and meals tax return on investment to the city for the first five years of the Uptown Alley’s operations is estimated to be more than $1 million.

“With the current economic challenges, Uptown Alley is truly thankful for the support of
Williamsburg, as they have been instrumental in helping us move this project forward,” Moore said.

Moore said he is hopeful that Uptown Alley could open in its new location in 2023. It will join facilities located in Chesterfield, Manassas, Surprise, Arizona and Changzhou, China.

Moore was initially trying to bring Uptown Alley to Chesapeake at the former Greenbrier Mall Sears. However that deal fell apart.

“Uptown Alley fills a need for more indoor entertainment options in the area,” Mayor Pons said. The owners are investing more than $12 million in the project … we are pleased to welcome Uptown Alley to the Williamsburg business community.”