Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on November 21st, 2011 at 2:10 pm
(Photos © J. Maus)
Work has begun to transform a former bowling alley on NE 82nd Avenue (across from Madison High School) into the premiere indoor bike park in America. Will Heiberg and Michael Whitesel, business partners behind the Lumberyard, have signed a 10-year lease and are overseeing a $3.5 million redevelopment project.
Michael Whitesel (L) and
Phase One of the project will build a series of jump ramps, a pump track, technical trail features and a serpentine singletrack trail in the main, 50,000 square foot part of the building. Also in the Phase One plans is a foam covered pump track for little kids on balance bikes.
If all the permitting goes smoothly, the Lumberyard could open as soon as late February, but Heiberg says he won’t be surprised if there are some delays given the unique nature of the project.
For Heiberg, a former video game designer who left his job this past summer to work full time on the Lumberyard, finding a space for an indoor bike park is a dream come true. (You might recall our 2008 story on Heiberg’s attempt to build a bike skills park at the former site of Washington High School in southeast Portland.)
I met Heiberg at the location on Sunday.
It doesn’t look like much from the other side of 82nd (looking east from Madison High)…
But inside you immediately see the potential…
Don’t worry, hitting your head isn’t an issue (as lead park designer and professional rider Joe Prisel demonstrates)..
Looking out at a ramp in the middle of stacks of wooden beams that used to support bowling lanes, Heiberg said, “On Friday, when we built that first box jump, the first tangible thing, it really brought this to a new level of reality. I couldn’t sleep that night; it was a huge step for me personally.”
“We’re going to take the best stuff out there and turn it up a notch… We’re going to design the best park ever.”
— Joe Prisel, lead park designer
Heiberg says they only need about three to four months to fully build out the 50,000 square feet of ramps and cafe/lounge space in the main building (the cafe, which will serve beer and wine, will be operated by a separate entity).
Phase Two of the project will include a new, 18,000 square foot pole barn to be constructed adjacent to the existing structure. That building will be 34-feet high and will alllow the singletrack trail feature to work its way up in elevation and then wind its way back down.
Check out this concept drawing of the finished build-out (the singletrack is the yellow line)…
When both phases are complete, the Lumberyard will boast about a half-mile of singletrack that will wind its way around the park’s ramps and other features.
While Heiberg and his partners were hoping for a slightly larger space, they could not be happier with the location. The MAX light rail line is just a half-mile away, Madison High School is across the street, and the Glenhaven skatepark is just up the road. “We love it location-wise. In terms of access this is really easy to get to.”
The proximity of the MAX line means that people from throughout the region can easily get to the Lumberyard — without a car or a bike. If you don’t have a bike, rentals (and safety gear) will be available. Or, if you buy an access pass, the Lumberyard will throw in free bike storage.
Speaking of passes, Heiberg says their model for access will be similar to a ski resort. They’ll offer day passes, punch cards, annual and seasonal passes.
Not surprisingly, the Madison South and Roseway Park neighborhoods are very excited for the project. Madison South neighborhood president David Smith showed up Sunday help with demolition efforts.
To help build the park Heiberg and Whitesel have hired Joe Prisel, a noted ramp, track and trail designer. Prisel was also behind the design and construction of the only other two, large-scale indoor mountain bike parks in the country — Ray’s Indoor MTB Parks in Cleveland and Milwaukee.
It’s something of a coup that Prisel left the midwest and Ray’s (which is now owned Trek Bicycles) and moved to Portland solely to work on the Lumberyard. When I asked Prisel about his plans for the new facility, he said, “We’re going to take the best stuff out there and turn it up a notch… We’re going to design the best park ever.”
The Lumberyard will be much more than just a place to ride, it will serve as a community hub and the plan is to host a variety of clinics, camps and other events.
This is a very exciting project. Beyond the new riding options it will provide to a wide range of skill levels and ages, and the clear community benefits, the Lumberyard could give a jolt to Portland’s mountain bike and BMX scene and the industry associated with it.
Stay tuned for more updates and check out a few more of the latest concept drawings below…