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Portland’s oldest office building could house major bike parking facility

Posted by on May 25th, 2011 at 10:06 am

The Dekum Building could become
Portland’s first major public bike
parking facility.
(Photo: Naito Properties)

The Dekum Building on SW 3rd and Washington in downtown Portland was built in 1892. It’s the oldest office building in the city and the former home of famed global ad agency Wieden + Kennedy. Now, building owner and manager Naito Properties hope it gains distinction as the largest public bike parking facility in Portland (and it just happens to be right across the street from the bank vault bike parking in the Spalding Building).

Verne Naito, who’s managing the Dekum for his family’s company, Naito Properties (the same family Naito Parkway is named after), says the owner of the building has set aside 4,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space that has already been permitted by the city for bicycle parking and is already built out to fit 300 bicycles.

The idea would be something similar to a Bikestation, which, despite toying with the idea for years, no one in Portland has been able to pull off.

“We’re looking for someone who sees this as a great business opportunity and also someone who wants to encourage bicycle commuting.”
— Verne Naito, Naito Properties

Many of the building’s current tenants get to work by bike and, since space for parking cars wasn’t a consideration in 1892 (“Horses liked to be tied up outdoors,” Naito says), most of them park in their offices. “It’s causing minor damage as tires and pedals mar 110 year old marble and wood work,” Naito, an avid architectural conservationist, wrote to us via email, “The damage is tragic, but avoidable.”

The owner of the Dekum is on-board with the bike parking idea. The only thing missing is someone to operate it. “We’re looking for someone who sees this as a great business opportunity and also someone who wants to encourage bicycle commuting,” Naito says.

Photo of the Dekum’s storefront.
(Photo: Dana Troy)

Naito touts the building’s prime location just blocks from the Morrison bridgehead and close to Waterfront Park. He also says there are several other large office buildings nearby whose tenants would jump at the chance for a secure, indoor bike parking option. To find an operator of this business, Naito has been shopping around a want ad titled, Bicycle Parking Business Opportunity.

Naito has been working on this project for about two years. Since we first reported about his mysterious “Portland Bikestation” signs back in June 2009, Naito has been looking for the right operator and finalizing all the details.

“We’d like an operator with business experience, but more importantly for someone who has a vision for what bicycle commuting can do to energize the downtown office district.”

Any takers? If interested, get in touch with Mr. Naito via email at verne[at]naitoproperties[dot]com.

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    Geezer Guy May 25, 2011 at 10:18 am

    I have been waiting for a long time to have a place to park my bike over night and on weekends. I sure hope this goes thru AND that its not expensive. Cost will be a big factor . . . .

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    Steve B May 25, 2011 at 10:50 am

    This would be super awesome for folks who need to bike downtown to catch Trimet to outer neighborhoods and suburbs.

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    bhance May 25, 2011 at 10:51 am

    This would be fantastic. The building my employer is moving into – a block away from the Dekum – doesn’t allow bikes in the building in order to ‘protect its historic interior from damage’. Which leaves only staple racks or cages in parking facilities – neither of which are that awesome.

    I hope this materializes.

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    Dana May 25, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I work in this building and what Verne says is a straight up lie. The damage inside is not due to the bikes, it’s due to the straight up neglect by the building owner to maintain the building. He is just trying to pass the blame on the 5-10 bike commuters (including myself) that ride their bike to work there.

    They only now just started to fix up the entryway because there is going to be 25% unleased space in the building and he is going to need to try to lease it right away.

    He is a typical slumlord and I can’t wait to get out of this building.

    On a positive note, the concept is a cool idea.

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      Jack May 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm

      +1. Hard soled shoes and high heels supporting hundreds of pounds of weight clicking around on the floors are always going to be more damaging than rubber tires rolling along supporting a few dozen pounds.

      I big centralized parking area is a car-centric concept. A lot of cyclists appreciate the ability to park at their destination. Security is an issue that needs to be tackled, but I don’t think Mr. Naito has the best answer.

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    A.K. May 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Yeah, I can’t imagine bike tires damaging a marble floor? What about high-heels, are those banned? And what about UPS/FedEx/DHL hand-truck cart tires?

    I’ve had real, old wood floors in the last two places I’ve lived, and my bikes have never harmed them. High heels, on the other hand, have left marks. I could see perhaps a bike leaned against the wall and being knocked over potentially causing damage, however.

    Whatever the reason for the damage, it’s nice that the property owner is actually trying to find a solution rather than just banning bikes, that needs to be commended.

    I think the idea is great though, and if I had the capital to do so I’d jump on the chance to run a secure bike-parking facility downtown. I feel if it was priced correctly and marketed properly, it could be very successful and I feel you could pull in people who work in a several-block radius of the building.

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      A.K. May 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      Oh, and I also just noticed on the OBRA post that the site is only permitted for bike *parking*, not *retail*.

      That is sort of a bummer. Not that you’d start to try and sell a lot of stuff, but I think the operator could do a pretty robust business in tubes/batteries for lights/other misc. accessories. If I was using a bike parking business I’d *expect* to have those sorts of things available to buy, because you never know when you’ll need them.

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    Indy May 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    My work building also has a no bike policy, which I completely ignore. If my tires are wet I carry my bike to my office.

    Get the crime rate to nothing in my area and I’ll park it in this lot, otherwise, no thanks.

    Oh well.

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    Ryno Dan May 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm
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    daisy May 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    keycard access bike parking
    minimal retail items
    bike maintenance staff person for basic tune ups
    showers and lockers
    workout equipment for cross training
    rollers and trainers
    yoga with a cycling flair
    good vibe

    All of this for the cost of a monthly gym membership should start to show + return in the 2-3 year range.

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    Greg May 25, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    I thought this was already open, as I’ve seen bikes parked in there over the last month.

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    Hot Rod May 29, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    That building, while attractive, looks like an earthquake waiting to happen.

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    Todd Boulanger May 31, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Daisy – the top few items would be the minimum such a facility would provide – similar to what Bikestation provides in similar non valet bike parking facilities (Hillsboro, Palo Alto, Santa Barbara, etc). Though a cafe, yoga, and rollers would likely be difficult given the 300 stall goal.

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    bikeR June 15, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I was in A’dam last week and came across a facility sponsored by the city to get bikes off the street. It included racks for 200 bikes, and incredible access and security. It cost 10 euro/month. Where is Portland in this equation? I think it will require bikes blocking the sidewalks and clogging parking stalls. I hope Mr. Naito can make this happen.

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    kevin July 30, 2011 at 12:09 am

    With the beaverton bike-n-ride an epic fail i’d laugh out loud if someone took him up on it. 8-10 people park in the free unsecured racks every day and only one bike on average with an owner willing to pay the measly 30 cents for a secured site. Oh price is INDEED a factor. Lol

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