The Back Story on City Bikes’ Departure From Barracks Row
A “Less Retail-Friendly Block” and Collapse of Lease Negotiations
by Larry Janezich
After five years on Barracks Row, 6:00pm Sunday will mark the close of the last day of business for City Bikes at 709 8th Street, SE. The bike shop is moving to 4810 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, in Tenleytown – a site that was intended to be the fourth outlet for the company. Clients who are unable to pick up their bicycles and/or special orders on Sunday will be able to do so at the Adams Morgan location at 2501 Champlain Street, NW.
Saul Leiken, City Bikes’ General Manager, told Capitol Hill Corner, he had hoped to sign an extension of his lease which expires at the end of the month, but that negotiations fell through after an “agreement in principle” had been reached. He said that he had sought more favorable terms for the lease because restaurants on the block had “made it less friendly to retail” and “foot traffic was not what it once was.” He said he learned Monday night that he would have to vacate the building by Sunday night.
Leiken said the short notice left him no time to look for another location on Capitol Hill, but that he would love to come back. He said he would look for another location after the bike season ends in the fall.
City Bikes has stores in Adams Morgan and Chevy Chase in addition to the new Tenleytown location. For more information, go here: http://citybikes.com/
The building owner, long-time Barracks Row real estate investor Margot Kelly, told CHC that negotiations on extending the lease for three months at a lower rent fell apart after Leiken requested additional concessions once a tentative agreement on a lease extension had been reached. Asked what sort of tenant she was looking for to fill the space, Kelly said, “I’ve never rented to a restaurant. I would prefer to rent to a furniture store or a boutique.” She said she would “concentrate on finding a business that would be an asset to the block”. The space comprises 2,500 square feet on the first floor plus another 900 square feet in the basement.
Given the rents which owners on Barracks Row have come to expect, it’s not clear that any retail shop such as Kelly mentioned can be a viable enterprise. Award winning restaurant Rose’s Luxury and its adjacent $250 prix fixe sister restaurant – Pineapple and Pearls – are just a few doors away. High rent may have been a factor in the closing last October of Zest, An American Bistro on the same block. That location remains empty. Meanwhile, Capitol Hill Sports at 727 8th Street – which threatened closure in February of 2014 before receiving a reprieve – is again sporting a “Going Out of Business Sale”.
The move will leave Capitol Hill Bikes at 719 8th Street, Barracks Row, as the only bike shop south of H Street, NE. Capitol Hill Bikes formerly occupied the building being vacated by City Bikes. The shop, founded by co-owners Denise D’Amour and Laurie Morin in May of 2000, subsequently consolidated its operations in their current building at 709th 8th Street in February of 2010 when the recession hit Barracks Row retail. For more information, go here: http://capitolhillbikes.com/