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At Central Eastside Lofts, bicycle parking and amenities “fill a need”

Posted by on February 4th, 2013 at 11:09 am

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The Central Eastside Lofts have raised
the bar for bike-owning tenants.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Continuing our investigation into bike parking and the bike-centric amenities offered by Portland developers, I paid a visit to the Central Eastside Lofts last week. The 70-unit building is situated on the corner of NE 6th and Couch, just a few blocks from the Burnside Bridge and downtown Portland. It features ground-floor retail and has parking for 78 bicycles and 22 cars (12 on a surface parking lot and 10 garages).

I met up with the developer of the building, Brad Fowler of Fowler Andrews LLC. Brad and his partner owned the old residential building on this corner and opened the new Eastside Lofts in its place back in October. He said the impetus to provide high quality bike facilities in their new building didn’t come simply from wanting to be bike-friendly or to follow a Portland trend, it was a pragmatic decision.

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Central Eastside Lofts at NE 6th and Couch.

“In the old building,” Brad shared, “my partner and I would see people storing bikes everywhere. In the hallway, in their units… there was a clear need for a better solution. We don’t view the bike room as a simple ‘amenity’ to attract tenants. Our bike room is a direct result of seeing how many bikes the residents of the prior building had and realizing that having a place to store and work on bikes would be something that residents would need.”

As Brad led me into the bike room, I was immediately impressed. The large room is highly visible, and that’s by design said Brad. They used storefront glass for the bike room all along the lobby entrance, “to add prominence and visibility.” The room is also adjacent to the property manager’s office, and staffers have a window that looks directly into it. The room is secured via key fob access and security cameras. There are two entries, either through the main lobby or via the back parking lot (both are monitored by cameras).

The racks themselves were bought from Dero and there are multiple options for storing bikes. Brad says he sent Dero a drawing of the bike room and worked with them on layout options. One option provided space for 90 bikes, but Brad opted for the 78 bike layout because he wanted more flexibility in the space. The options include: a two-level rack that you roll your bike onto; racks with hooks on the wall you lift your front wheel onto; and there are several standard staple racks on the ground. Brad said he knows many people have large bikes these days so he wanted to give them an easy option.

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In addition to places to store your bike, the bike room also boasts a well-equipped bike stand with tools and a pump, gear lockers, and something I’ve never seen or heard of before; a bike wash station!

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The bike wash station is essentially a big shower. There’s a hose with a spray nozzle, a big drain, and a hook to place your bike on while it gets washed. Brad said it gets used quite a bit. Why a bike wash? I asked: “We just knew we needed one. If you have an apartment, where can you do it? I do it in my driveway.”

For those tenants who don’t feel comfortable putting their bikes in the shared bike room, 45 of the 70 units have a specially designed place to hang your bike. It’s a simple front wheel hook on a wall with concrete board (for durability). It’s a small touch, but it shows the level of thought Brad and his partner went to to make owning a bicycle (or two) as easy as possible.

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Bike hanging area is available in 45 of the 70 units.

Another perk for bike owners at this building is a bike shop set to open soon in one of the retail spaces along NE 6th. Brad says Europa Velo (owned by Demetri Macrigeanis, former owner of Veloce Bicycles on Hawthorne) will open up a small retail shop and bike fit studio in March. The shop will host “Open Studio” events in the bike room where Demetri will offer free tips and clinics on bike repair, safety, and other services for building tenants.

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While Brad and his partners have done their part to encourage bicycling for Central Eastside Lofts tenants, he feels the City of Portland could do more. From the rooftop deck of the building, Brad expressed disappointment in the lack of good bike access in the $17.8 million Burnside/Couch Couplet project that was completed back in 2010. “Why is there no bike lane on Couch?” he wondered. “There’s nothing from 12th, the bike lane only starts at 6th.”

As for the new streetcar line on NE Grand (which can be seen behind Brad in the photo above), that’s another massive project where Portland had a golden opportunity to include excellent bike access, yet failed to do so. Now, with developments like this springing up all over the eastside, we’re starting to see the consequence of that lack of bike access. Brad said he’s curious what type of ridership the streetcar will get, but given how bike-centric his building is, I’m sure he would have lobbied for bike access on MLK and Grand if he could have. Speaking with Brad about these issues made me realize that perhaps developers like him will soon become a politically powerful voice for better bike access. For now though, he’s doing his part by offering respectful and thoughtful bike parking and amenities for his tenants.

(Note: Central Eastside Lofts have paid for advertising on BikePortland; but that has no influence on the content of this article.)

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  • Chainwhipped February 4, 2013 at 11:37 am

    Looks Fantastic!

    So rent is what, like $9,000 per month?

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    • Brian February 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      Guess how much a parking garage costs!

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  • Joe February 4, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    What is the rent here per month? I don’t understand why they never say that on their website.

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    • Julie February 4, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      The cheapest one I found was $1,195 a month… which is double what I pay for my studio nearby. I guess I’ll be sticking with vinyl flooring instead of responsibly-harvested bamboo…

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  • Sunny February 4, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Studio from $995
    1 Bedroom from $1150
    2 Bedrooms from $1550

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  • Hart Noecker February 4, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    For a brand spanking new building, the rent is understandable, but still obviously unaffordable if you don’t make salary. I live not far from this site in a 100 year old building, and we have a bike parking room as well. Rent is considerably cheaper. That said, it’s encouraging to see new apartments going up designed for low/no-car lifestyles.

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  • Spiffy February 4, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Brad and his partner rehabbed the old residential building on this corner

    Google street view shows this as an empty lot… that’s quite the rehab…

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  • CaptainKarma February 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Dah, I’m sure it’s nice, but it looks like soviet apt block.

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    • was carless February 4, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      You have obviously never seen a soviet apartment block.

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      • Andrew Seger February 5, 2013 at 12:52 am

        +1. I currently live in a planned soviet community. This isn’t anything like soviet block housing. At all.

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        • Tbird February 5, 2013 at 9:30 am

          @andrew – where are you living in a soviet block? (I live in Warsaw right now in a soviet designed block as well :/)

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    • eastsider February 5, 2013 at 12:37 am

      I’m assuming that by “soviet apt block” you mean: cheap, boring, monotonous. I don’t think that describes this. Its actually a quite nice modernist building for a rental (although overpriced). This building actually has some thought in the design. If you’re looking for an example of cheap, ugly crap, they are being built all over Portland right now. Bottom dollar cartoon faux “historic” buildings that cheapen their neighborhoods rather than add to them.

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  • seeshellbike February 4, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Finally a building with secure bike parking on the ground floor. This is so important. It is such a hassle to haul your bike into the elevator or to the scary basement room – not a way to encourage new cyclists. And what if you are a family with a bike trailer or extracycle, probably won’t fit in the elevator. The convenience could definitely be a benefit worth paying for or considering as you select house. And the bike wash wow- could it double as a dog wash?

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  • Todd Boulanger February 4, 2013 at 2:13 pm

    Looks to be an excellent and well thought out bike parking facility. Way to go!, Brad Fowler and staff at Fowler Andrews LLC for raising the bar for multifamily mixed use projects.

    Todd Boulanger
    VP of Operations

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  • SilkySlim February 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Bike wash!!!! And I thought Kentucky holding Cyclocross Worlds this weekend was a sign that the sport has made it.

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  • Austin February 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Nice facilities, makes me want to redo my garage at home.

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  • eastsider February 4, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    this is the kind of forward thinking design we need… not selfish curmudgeons that operate on a suburban 1960s mentality and think the are entitled to a free public parking spot directly in front of their house! bike friendly apartments in walkable neighborhoods are WAY more appealing than requiring developers to build parking spots (and then more roads, etc.) for new buildings.

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  • Doug K February 4, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    Eastsider: Make sure City Council gets that message, as they got a lot of that suburban mentality at a January hearing on apartment parking. Proposed “tweaks” (adding auto parking requirements) will be at Planning Commission on March 12 at 12:30 PM, and Council after that.

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    • eastsider February 4, 2013 at 11:01 pm

      indeed. to quote the late Ada Louise Huxtable, “some day, some American city will discover the Malthusian truth that the greater number of automobiles, the less the city can accommodate them without destroying itself. The downtown that turns itself into a parking lot is spreading its own dissolution.”

      Neighborhood associations are mostly controlled by property owners that fit a specific demographic. City council must hear the voices of those that know more parking/cars/traffic is the opposite of what we need.

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  • sabes February 4, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    I don’t understand why anyone would ride their bike down Couch when Davis is traffic free with no traffic lights.

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    • eastsider February 5, 2013 at 12:26 am

      because Sandy Blvd cuts off Davis and makes it impossible to cross. And Couch connects to the Burnside Bridge.

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    • A.K. February 5, 2013 at 11:36 am

      Couch is a great street to ride down.

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    • Greg February 7, 2013 at 11:52 pm

      I don’t because getting to the Bside bridge from Davis is a pain, with tricky streetcar tracks included for fun.

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  • A.K. February 5, 2013 at 11:41 am

    “Why is there no bike lane on Couch?” he wondered. “There’s nothing from 12th, the bike lane only starts at 6th.”

    Because you don’t need a bike lane on Couch? The whole right lane *is* your bike lane. People need to realize that you don’t need a “bike lane” on every inch of pavement in which you want to ride.

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  • Mindful Cyclist February 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    I hope the hose in the bike wash station is low pressure. Otherwise people are going to be washing the grease out of their bearings!

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  • wsbob February 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    Nice, well thought out bike room. Bike wash is a great idea; I wonder if its’ drains are sufficiently equipped to deal with the amount of dirt and crud many bikes are likely to bring into the wash area.

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  • Oregon Mamacita February 9, 2013 at 9:28 am

    I was not aware of a need for 1000.00 a month cramped studios.

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