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Update: Bike Republic not quite “official” just yet

Posted by on August 14th, 2008 at 1:59 pm

It seems I jumped the gun with my story about the former McCall’s Restaurant site in Waterfront Park being turned into a cafe and bike retail, rental, commuter facility operated by Bike Republic.

I published my story after reading a story in The Oregonian that I interpreted as meaning it was a done deal. I should have held my story and contacted a few sources because now I’ve learned that the deal is far from done.

“I currently have no agreement with Parks for the space…I’m not ready to jump up and down with joy just yet.”
— Ken Nichols, Bike Republic

Ken Nichols, the developer behind the Bike Republic concept told me via telephone today that he has no official agreement with the Portland Parks Bureau yet. Nichols wants to be clear that the only recent development is that Parks has decided to only negotiate with him from now — but those negotiations are just getting underway.

“I currently have no agreement with Parks for the space. We have a good situation and relationship going, but I haven’t even seen a template of a lease yet.”

Nichols says he’s happy with the direction things are going, but that he’s, “not ready to jump up and down with joy just yet.”

He also wanted to clarify that the services he’ll offer at the site still depend on, “what type of build-out is allowed by Parks.”

Unlike what I reported earlier, he said he has no plans for showers, locker rooms, or long-term bike parking. “My hope,” he said, “is for a cafe, rentals of human powered vehicles (not just bikes), and bike repair and accessory retail.” In addition, he said that at this point, a Laughing Planet Cafe in the building is not a guarantee.

Part of the confusion is that his company, Bike Republic, has a larger mission of creating and operating facilities that encourage “non-car commuting and urban outdoor recreation.” In addition to the McCall’s site, Nichols is working with downtown developers and building owners to locate bike-commuter facilities like showers, personal lockers, and related amenities.

As for the McCall’s site, Nichols says he has an historic preservation architect on his team and that once he gets the green light from Parks, it would take about 9-11 months to build.

Nichols hopes to have the official “OK” from Parks and a lease signed by the end of this month. After that, it will need to be passed by City Council.

Stay tuned for more developments… and I apologize for any confusion with my previous story.

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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

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    steve August 14, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    So he is simply opening another bike shop? Yay.

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    joe adamski August 14, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    I didnt see that he simply plans \”another bike shop\”. He appears to have bigger plans than that.

    This has been a problematic property for Parks for a long time. Given the lack of parking for cars and the high visibility of that location, it isn\’t easy to find that perfect fit kind of tenant. The City ( I am certain ) doesn\’t want to have to go through this process every couple years. To find that tenent that has the right mix of capital, vision and the ability to succeed is the Citys job. Whether its a bike based business or otherwise , it has to meet that standard.

    A bike or human powered business seems an ideal fit. But it has to be economically viable too. I hope we get that successful business that meets the needs of park users and downtowners in general. And that its a clean/green operation.

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    Tall Mike August 14, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    You mean you got a distorted view of the story after reading the Oregonian? I can\’t belive it!

    Remember the Bikes vs. Cars fiasco that they started?

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    BURR August 14, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    The proposed bike rental part of this business would probably do great at that location, at least seasonally.

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    Schrauf August 14, 2008 at 5:27 pm

    \”he said he has no plans for showers, locker rooms, or long-term bike parking. “My hope,” he said, “is for a cafe, rentals of human powered vehicles (not just bikes), and bike repair and accessory retail.”\”

    Yup – basically another tourist-focused bike shop. Good location for it, but not what many were hoping for, given all the commuters not lucky enough to have showers or locker rooms in their buildings downtown.

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    Scott Mizée August 14, 2008 at 9:01 pm


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    Ethan August 14, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    I sure hope this works out, it would be a great centerpiece for Portland\’s increasingly large bike commute.

    I have been amazed that the BikeStations and automated vending machines and bike-sharing programs have landed elsewhere first . . . something like this would be a good omen.

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    Crash N. Burns August 14, 2008 at 9:43 pm


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    Moo August 15, 2008 at 7:50 am

    What the heck is the Oregonian doing jumping the gun on a story? Keep us posted on what\’s not going to happen there.

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    ralphie August 15, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Here\’s the statement in the Oregonian this post is linked to.

    \”The parks bureau is also negotiating a final agreement with Bike Republic, which would move into the old McCall\’s restaurant in Waterfront Park. Bike Republic would provide bike rentals and repair alongside a Laughing Planet cafe would serve food, Grimwade said.\”

    On the other hand this appeared on this blog.

    \”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……
    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 Oregonian reported negotiations on the use of the property which included bike rentals and repairs.

    Bike Portland turned this into a done deal, and then took information from back in April and rolled it into something well beyond the stated plans that are in negotiations.

    How does this become a problem with the Oregonian\’s reporting???

    I\’m all for jumping up and yelling BS, but give credit where credit is due or not as the case may be.

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    Jonathan Maus (Editor) August 15, 2008 at 10:10 am

    Thanks for that ralphie.

    I just want folks to be clear that I realize this was my mistake and that my story above does not imply that the Oregonian\’s bad reporting had something to do with it.

    any criticisms of the Oregonian\’s reporting on this have come in the comments, not in my story.

    if that\’s not clear, please let me know.

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    Donald August 15, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Good follow up, Jonathan. I\’m sure it wasn\’t easy.

    That said, has anyone talked to the bike rental shop just east of there as to what they think of this muncipally endorsed bike repair/rental opening up in their neck of the woods?

    And how cozy is the relationship between bike rupub and laughing planet? Are there any links that bind them?

    Given this current glimpse at what\’s proposed, I\’d just as soon have another fish house on the property.

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    ralphie August 15, 2008 at 11:04 am

    No shot at you Jonathan, you owned up to the situation.

    Just pointing out to others that without reading both articles, they were jumping to conclusions on the accuracy of the reporting on the part of the Oregonian.

    Much as one bad cyclist shouldn\’t taint us all, neither should one case of bad reporting taint the entire paper.

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