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It’s official: Waterfront property will become ‘Bike Republic’

Posted by on August 13th, 2008 at 6:35 pm

[Editor’s Note: Please read my follow-up to this story. It seems I jumped the gun a little bit and the deal isn’t quite “official” yet. Sorry for any confusion.]

Bike to Work Day

Ken Nichols, seen here at Bike
to Work Day in 2007, is the man
behind Bike Republic.
(Photos © J. Maus)

According to The Oregonian, the Portland Parks Bureau announced today that the building in Waterfront Park (just north of the Hawthorne Bridge) that used house McCall’s Restaurant will be turned into Bike Republic.

Bike Republic is a concept created by Portlander Ken Nichols (in photo at right) and the plan is to turn the building into a full-service bike commuter facility.

When we last checked in with Nichols back in April, his plan was to offer bike rentals, repair, and commuter amenities (like a place to change and shower), a cafe (to be operated by popular burrito joint Laughing Planet), and a small bike retail shop.

The northeast corner of the existing building. The location of the building is south and adjacent to the Salmon Street Fountain.

Nichols has said in addition to restoring the building’s architectural heritage, he plans to install a 10 kilowatt solar photovalic system to the patio (providing 40% of the building’s power) and manage 100% of the stormwater runoff.

Stay tuned for more details on Nichols’ plans.

And… congratulations Ken! We all hope Bike Republic will become a great asset to the community.


— For more on this property from an architectural point of view, see this post on Portland Architecture.

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

  • a.O August 13, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    Absolutely. That\’s great news – no doubt it will create more bike commuters in Portland. And if you need a good lawyer to help with getting the PV system in place, I know one that knows both bikes and solar!

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  • Brad August 13, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    Great to see that building getting put to very good use! Let\’s support this venture and hope that it inspires other entrepreneurs to choose bikey endeavors. In my opinion, private enterprise will give bikes \”legitimacy\” much quicker than any government or advocacy program ever could. How could all those hardcore capitalist conservatives and car loving radio mouthpieces bash bikes when they are creating jobs, wealth and tax paying commerce?

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  • Kt August 13, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    That\’s so awesome! Congrats!!

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  • Steve (not steve) August 13, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Way to go and good luck Ken!

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  • Donald August 13, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Mid-Century Modern rocks!

    I really hope a good percentage of the effort is put into restoring this incredible piece of ArchArt.

    Me, I earn my sweat and can live with it during the day. But, hey, if you need a shower, it ought to be taken in a great building.


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  • Metal Cowboy August 13, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Way to go, Ken! The right place, time, motivations for doing this. See you on teh waterfront!

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  • waybigdog August 13, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Sweet , great location , great news , and I think that this will only make more people want to jump onto some pedals. Well done Ken.

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  • wsbob August 13, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    I\’m glad to see a cycling supportive service appearing in this area, but I\’ll reserve praise for the use of this particular building for that until some design plans, renderings or the finished result is ready for consideration.

    For a building that was particularly designed to showcase the Northwest\’s great natural resources, it could be quite a challenge to do both that and also serve and promote cycling in the same building.

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  • Jordan August 13, 2008 at 10:04 pm

    Great to hear! Good Luck!

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  • Wrench August 13, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Hopefully they pay their mechanics a decent wage unlike other shops in town.

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  • mama_nata August 13, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    this is awesome. i rarely commute by bike (esp now that i stay at home with the babe) but have circled that building tons of time on leisure rides, thinking \”they\” should really do something with this awesome spot. good for ken! serve ice cream or something for the moms with strollers! 🙂

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  • Zaphod August 13, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    This couldn\’t be more awesome.

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  • glenzedrine August 13, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    totally awesome. and laughing planet? amazing. that restaurant is probably one of my all time favorite things about portland. bikes, beer, burritos and smoothies, what more does the world really need?

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  • Ashley August 13, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    OMGosh how fantastic! Woot!

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  • KWw August 14, 2008 at 1:28 am

    Bike bath houses?!? Its all fun\’n\’games until the cops find out about the rampant bicycle orgies. Metal sex, there I said it…Carbon fiber Sunday nights, just after the goth dance party.

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  • John Russell August 14, 2008 at 3:03 am

    I just hope that this doesn\’t make other employers think they don\’t need to provide showers for commuters on bikes.

    Other than that, I think this is a great idea. How long until it opens?

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  • Duncan August 14, 2008 at 6:24 am

    Brings new meaning to the term \”biker bar\”.

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  • Moo August 14, 2008 at 6:41 am

    Cool! Now how \’bout someone with the connects bringing one to the other side of the river…not all of us have aspired to work in a highrise.

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  • […] just emailed me a link to Jonathan’s blog, – it looks like the building in Waterfront Park, just north of the Hawthorne Bridge, will be turned […]

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  • Jose Rodriguez August 14, 2008 at 7:16 am

    This is AWESOME!!! I have a few recommendations for Ken Nichols (hopefully he\’s reading through these comments).
    1. Open up early enough to support morning commuters.
    2. Build & mount a VERY LARGE Go By Bike neon lighting sign above the facilities.

    Congrats Ken. I hope you do well with the spot.

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  • matt picio August 14, 2008 at 8:14 am

    What I\’d really like to know is how Ken Nichols and the City of Portland plan to deal with the potential traffic conflicts at the front door of the structure. Many cyclists (myself included) fly down the ramp from the Hawthorne Bridge at a fairly high rate of speed and zoom past the front door on the way through the Salmon fountain area.

    This issue will likely be resolved permanently in another 1-2 years when the county destroys the bridge ramp and re-aligns the ramps at the west end of the Hawthorne Bridge (this is in the works – the county is currently selecting a design firm to plan the ramp alignment, and the actual work is about 18 months out, with completion 18 months after that), but in the interim, potential collisions between the biker \”jet set\” and people entering and exiting the structure will remain. I look forward to seeing what steps are taken to minimize or eliminate the problems.

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  • JayS. August 14, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Perhaps the \”jet Set\” will need to travel with a bit more caution. The curse of more bikes. SAFETY FIRST

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  • Mike M August 14, 2008 at 9:01 am

    This building was at one point a very fine modernist piece of Architecture. I agree with wsbob that it will certainly be a challenge to restore this building properly, and use it for a commerce center.

    John Yeon, the original architect had said that this building should be pulled down and replaced because of how badly it had been butchered. Any restoration of this building will have to deal with years of neglect and bad remodels. I would love to see this project looked at in detail with traffic control as at the moment the front door is less than obvious from the park side, which is where it would best suit bicycle clientele.

    I wish you luck in your venture, and hope that you find a great architect who is really interested in the historic side of this venture as well as the bike side.

    Please don\’t further damage an icon in Portland\’s architectural history.

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  • KG August 14, 2008 at 9:08 am

    Ken –> DREAM BIG! Portland needs something that out of town visitors should be remembering about. This is the perfect opportunity to make our town (even more)memorable.

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  • torfinn August 14, 2008 at 9:18 am

    AWESOME. I will hit this up with regularity.

    Love Burritos.

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  • KJ August 14, 2008 at 9:40 am

    Hey! Coffee!! Coffee for the morning commute!!! Sounds very cool over all. yay solar!

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  • Maculsay August 14, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Wow – I\’m still waiting for the punchline – I\’ve wondered what would become of the building for years, and now, a bikey place AND Laughing Planet.

    I\’m pleasantly stunned!

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  • Mary Sue August 14, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Dear Mr. Nichols:
    Please to be having the cafe open at 6am? Because that\’s about when I\’m riding past there dreaming about a cup of coffee.
    Mary Sue

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  • GLV August 14, 2008 at 10:48 am

    From the article:

    \”Bike Republic would provide bike rentals and repair alongside a Laughing Planet cafe would serve food\”

    Absolutely no mention of showers or commuter facilities. Are you sure you got this right, Jonathan?

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  • Ian Stude August 14, 2008 at 11:00 am

    Congratulations, Ken. Now the really hard work begins, right? Best of luck to you. Looking forward to more success stories from Bike Republic.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) August 14, 2008 at 11:00 am

    \”Absolutely no mention of showers or commuter facilities. Are you sure you got this right, Jonathan?\”


    keep in mind, at this point, nothing is certain, I\’m sure Mr. Nichols has had many ideas for what to do but until the plans are more solidified we won\’t know what will be the final concept.

    I got my information from the Bike Republic website. here\’s the snip:


    BIKE Republic is a full service bike commuter facility in downtown Portland.

    * Secure, indoor or covered bike parking
    * Full time staff
    * Showers and dedicated lockers
    * Pick up and delivery of dry-cleaning and laundry
    * Towel Service and comfortable dressing space
    * Quick food/beverage
    * Bike cleaning and repair
    * Bike clothes, parts, and accessories
    * Bike rental (at specific locations)

    i realize websites can be out of date. unfortunately I have been unable to reach Nichols. when I do i will do a follow-up story with more information.


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  • bahueh August 14, 2008 at 11:23 am

    Matt (#21)…imagine yourself SLOWING DOWN coming off the bridge…then make it happen.

    yes, there may be potential conflicts with traffic from time to time…I use that same route and was wondering the same thing…although I have this sneaking suspicion that it won\’t be all too heavily utilized…

    My ride to work is still another 2 miles from that location…so taking a shower there and getting back on the bike doesn\’t make much sense…

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  • Grimm August 14, 2008 at 11:59 am

    This sounds fantastic. One more reason I love Portland. I would love to see some secure bike storage. Even though I dont commute to downtown, im stoked to see this go in.

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  • matt picio August 14, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    Jay S. and Bahueh – sure, but *I* am not the problem per se. When that building starts having construction, I\’ll either slow down or choose another route. When I do speed down that ramp, I make myself fully aware of potential approaching traffic. (and I don\’t always speed down the ramp, just sometimes)

    I\’m not looking for the city to make it easier for cyclists to speed through there, I\’m looking for them to prevent conflicts between the average user and those who *won\’t* slow down.

    And they need to fix that angled piece of pavement on the sidewalk corner beneath the ramp – I\’ve seen a few cyclists crash there.

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  • GLV August 14, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    While we\’re on the subject, people need to be aware that the ramp in question is 2-way for cyclists. One you get to the top of the ramp, it\’s one way into downtown, but I am growing tired of people saying \”wrong way dude\” to me when I am going up the ramp.

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  • matt picio August 14, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Good point, GLV – I\’ve run into that problem myself on the occasions that I\’ve needed to ride up that ramp. It also frequently sees pedestrians, and a lot of people when riding down it also don\’t keep an eye out on the sidewalk below on the right, which the ramp merges into.

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  • Eileen August 14, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    \”Those who won\’t slow down\” shouldn\’t live in a city.

    Bahueh, your comments always crack me up. I was thinking the same thing.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Editor) August 14, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    update: It seems I jumped the gun on this story a bit and it\’s not quite as \”official\” as I reported initially.

    Please read my follow up story for more information.

    sorry for any confusion.

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  • K'Tesh August 14, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Read the follow up story… Can\’t wait for this story to be \”official\”.

    Good Luck Ken!

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