Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on February 25th, 2009 at 8:17 am
common in Waterfront Park
by this spring.
(Photo: Wheel Fun Rentals)
Back in August we reported that the former McCall’s restaurant site in Waterfront Park would become Portland’s first-ever, full-service bike commuter facility. The concept, proposed by Ken Nichols of Bike Republic, would have brought showers and lockers, a small retail bike shop, secure, long-term bike parking and a cafe to the site.
(Graphic: Randy Leonard’s office)
Then along came the Rose Festival Foundation and City Commissioner Randy Leonard. The Rose Festival needed a new home office and Leonard offered them the site with a $1 a year lease (that will include an iconic neon Rose sign on the roof). The Rose Fest folks (obviously) jumped at the offer and the deal was sealed in no time.
Nichols wasn’t exactly thrilled with that turn of events.
Nichols is understandably a bit perturbed that his plan for the space wasn’t as eagerly embraced by the city as Leonard’s Rose Fest idea — especially since Nichols’ plan would have actually paid the city at least $1,000 in monthly rent.
(Photo © J. Maus)
Last month, Nichols told the Willamette Week:
“My proposal was a better option for the people of Portland…I’d like to see the park used for something other than festivals.”
And just last week The Oregonian reported that Nichols,
“understands the benefits that the Rose Festival provides to the city but thinks that using the building for office space doesn’t best serve the public.”
At this point, the deal is done and Nichols has moved on to other projects. The good news is that the Parks Bureau has leased a kiosk at the McCall’s site that will be used as a bike rental service.
According to Parks’ Business Development Coordinator Todd Lofgren, they’ve signed an agreement with the non-profit Albertina Kerr Centers to launch Kerr Bikes, LLC that is set to open this spring.
On the Parks Bureau website yesterday, Lofgren wrote:
“Kerr Bikes will offer a fleet of unique bikes for unparalleled outdoor recreation, sightseeing, people watching and a touch of exercise that will enhance any leisure time experience in the park. There will be a variety of bikes to rent, such as tandem bikes, deuce coupes and surreys, offered in sizes for couples or for the entire family to share.”
In a statement about the deal, CEO and President of Albertina Kerr Centers, Chris Krenk said,
“Kerr Bikes will be a win-win for the community. Meaningful jobs will be created for people with developmental disabilities, and the Portland community will have access to an exciting new family-friendly bike-oriented experience.”
A bike rental kiosk in Waterfront Park will be a welcome attraction (although I’m sure hardcore racer/commuter types won’t love dodging between tourists on their way to/from work), but whenever I see that big neon rose on the roof of the building, I will always think that it was a missed opportunity to finally get our long-awaited “Go by Bike” sign.
Also, in an interesting twist of irony, it was the Rose Festival who, back in June of 2007, prohibited pedicab operators from riding in their Waterfront Village. I wonder if they’ll pursue a similar policy against these rental bikes, or if their $1 a year lease deal will change their attitude?