Lumberyard Bike Park will close this fall after ‘an amazing 10 years’

The pump track area in 2013. (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Michael Whitesel (L) and Will Heiberg before it opened in 2011.

Owners of the Lumberyard Bike Park announced today they plan to close the doors their doors in August.

The 60,000 square-foot former bowling alley on Northeast 82nd Avenue has served as an indoor cycling paradise for a broad spectrum of riders since it opened in May 2012. Co-owners Will Heiberg and Michael Whitesel made the announcement Wednesday in a message that thanked members and fans:

“The last couple of years have been difficult for the Lumberyard, as it has for many. That is okay. It was really not about us, it was about this community. It was important that we were able to be here in whatever capacity we could. But, we had to accept we were operating below self-sustaining levels. Once again, you have our deepest of gratitudes for letting us share our dream with you.”

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Click for Captions (Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

In a phone call a few minutes ago, Heiberg expressed pride in his staff and their accomplishments, but said the finances were just too tough to keep the doors open. “The last two years we’ve been running on the wrong side of the lines,” he said. “It’s just been a huge drain. And our lease ends in four and-a-half years and there’s not enough runway to come back and make it work.”

“It’s been an amazing 10 years and we’ve accomplished way more than I ever thought we could.”
— Will Heiberg

For Heiberg, Lumberyard was a response to wanting more places to ride and improve his skills and fitness, without having to drive to a trail far outside the city. What he ended up creating however, was much more than that. “It’s been an amazing 10 years and we’ve accomplished way more than I ever thought we could,” he said, and then rattled off everything from their afterschool programs to providing a space for private instruction, and how they hosted meetings for neighborhood associations and nonprofit groups.

Covid-related lockdowns and health concerns had a big impact on their bottom line. Damage from a fire that hit their building in August 2019 didn’t help either. But regardless of Covid and other challenges, Heiberg said it’s unlikely they could have survived future changes. “We don’t own our building and we’ve spent six years looking for a second location. If we didn’t find a place to jump to the business would have had to wrap-up,” he said. Why? “Our use just doesn’t work in today’s market, rent would go up 4-5 times.”

Over the past decade the Lumberyard has made a name for itself as a great destination for BMX riders, jumpers, pump track lovers, and even big ramp enthusiasts. In 2018 we shared how one nonprofit used the Lumberyard as a place to teach 8th-grade girls how to ride and gain confidence in themselves at the same time. It was also a very popular spot for birthday parties and youth summer camps.

Speaking of birthdays, Heiberg shared today that his three-year-old son was the first person to ride at Lumberyard. “Now he’s 13 and he’s one of our coaches and he rides amazing. If that was the only thing I accomplished, sharing that passion with my son and giving him that opportunity, that would be awesome.”

That’s nowhere near the only thing Heiberg, Whitesel and their excellent staff accomplished. We are so grateful for everything the Lumberyard gave to our city.

And it’s not over yet! They plan to have one more summer of shred sessions, camps and the usual fun before closing the doors for good in August. Check out LumberyardMTB.com for hours and more info.

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Todd/Boulanger
Todd/Boulanger
3 months ago

Thanks Will Heiberg and Michael Whitesel for giving it all that you had and more. I think your space was as magical for kids as the London “Action Parks” that I played in back in the 1970s. Good luck in your next adventure.

I'll Show Up
I'll Show Up
3 months ago

Calling all angel investors!

David S.
David S.
3 months ago
Reply to  I'll Show Up

Have to be a true angel to invest in Portland right now.

Matt
Matt
3 months ago
Reply to  I'll Show Up

I feel like there should be a GoFundMe or something. I can’t help much but I’d like to help. I stopped riding there because of the pandemic–looks like lots of other riders did the same, and the place couldn’t survive 🙁

Steven
Steven
3 months ago
Reply to  Matt

I agree Matt. Bike Portland can you spearhead this? I’m not sure if the owners want to stay open, but if so, the community could pitch in. This place is more than a bike park. It’s a place for young shredders to learn that they can get good at hard things. And the inclusive community feel is outstanding. We are bummed!

lvc
lvc
3 months ago
Reply to  Steven

From the article:

But regardless of Covid and other challenges, Heiberg said it’s unlikely they could have survived future changes. “We don’t own our building and we’ve spent six years looking for a second location. If we didn’t find a place to jump to the business would have had to wrap-up,” he said. Why? “Our use just doesn’t work in today’s market, rent would go up 4-5 times.”

In either their facebook post or in their comments to their post, the owners said that the building owners have already lined up a different tenant or plans for redevelopment. They said in this article that for 6 years they’ve been looking for another suitable location.

Looking at the big picture, how many music venues, niche retailers, beloved decades old hole in the wall type place, etc. have gone over the past decade or so? Unfortunately, in today’s world, it appears a business model based on doing something for the love of the activity and the community around that activity isn’t all that viable. Rent is just too much. I don’t think this will happen, but I do hope that all the problems Portland has had over the past few years will perhaps slow down or even reverse this.

Steven
Steven
3 months ago
Reply to  lvc

Yeah, I agree. Just wishful thinking. I appreciate the response.

1kw
1kw
3 months ago
Reply to  I'll Show Up

Trek “invested” in Bike Gallery…come on Trek, invest in some future shredders!

Mark smith
Mark smith
3 months ago

Covid-related lockdowns and health concerns had a big impact on their bottom line

Translation: lockdown Kate, kafoury and wheeler killed yet another business…

And yet, the mask mandate drags on months after most other states dropped the nonsense…

Sorry, I feel bad but you get what you allow.

lvc
lvc
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark smith

Or, if one was inclined to read the article one could learn that:

But regardless of Covid and other challenges, Heiberg said it’s unlikely they could have survived future changes. “We don’t own our building and we’ve spent six years looking for a second location. If we didn’t find a place to jump to the business would have had to wrap-up,” he said. Why? “Our use just doesn’t work in today’s market, rent would go up 4-5 times.”

Unless you think that the owners are lying or whatever, COVID had an impact on the “when” perhaps, but not the “if”.

Lazy Spinner
Lazy Spinner
3 months ago
Reply to  lvc

The space will very likely be sold, torn down, and re-developed into townhomes/condos retailing for $600K+ and marketed as “close to Tri-Met and bike lanes in an up-and-coming neighborhood!”. Within a decade, Portland will be San Francisco del Norte – overpriced real estate, chi-chi restaurants, boutiques, etc. and the service workers will have to roll in from the suburbs because they cannot afford the rents. I am actively looking to return to Ohio where homes are affordable and far better bike infrastructure is being built that actually connects cities to each other! (Yes! I am talking about 20-50 mile stretches of car free riding.)

ac
ac
3 months ago

This will leave an unfortunate hole in Portland’s bike world