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Bicycle Habitat to close original store due to skyrocketing rent

Published August 19, 2015

NEW YORK (BRAIN) — Bicycle Habitat will close its original store on Lafayette Street in New York's SoHo neighborhood Sept. 30. The store is consolidating into another location three doors down on the same block.

Owner Charlie McCorkell said he was forced to close it because of rent increases. Rent for the 244/242 Lafayette Street store, which encompassed two storefronts and about 2,300 square feet of space, was $21,000 a month. And McCorkell said his rent was going to increase by nearly 3 1/2 times to $72,000 per month, which wasn't sustainable with the revenue from bicycle sales.

"You can't increase rent that much and not expect an impact," he told BRAIN. "You can't just work for the landlord, who I like and have known for many years. I don't take it personally. It's just a market value for the space that we can't afford."

The original Lafayette Street store opened in March 1978. McCorkell and his soon-to-be wife, Esta Bigler, and her father helped scrape the chemical residue from Beacon Chemical from the concrete floor. The store opened as the SoHo neighborhood was undergoing a transformation from an industrial zone full of empty manufacturing lofts. At the time, it was a low-rent commercial area in the city.

"It's sad to leave this space," said McCorkell. "It has a storied history, as well as much personal meaning to me.

"But we are really lucky to have invested in additional rental space five years ago, down the block from our original store," he added. "We have another great store on Lafayette Street and will not be priced out of SoHo for several more years. But I am concerned about the future of SoHo, as more and more of the stores, galleries and artists who transformed the area are being replaced by eateries and high-end chain stores. Will SoHo become another high-end suburban-like mall, lacking local flavor?" he said.

McCorkell said commercial rents in New York have been skyrocketing, particularly in SoHo, a neighborhood in lower Manhattan, as high-end retail and brands like Prada move in. The name "SoHo" refers to the area being south of Houston Street.

Bicycle Habitat will run a consolidation sale at the SoHo stores over the next 40 days, and "store celebration" sales at its stores in Chelsea, Park Slope and the new store in Prospect Heights, which opened in June.

The remaining store on 250 Lafayette Street is 2,500 square feet, which is larger than average given New York's tight real estate spaces.

Bicycle Habitat remains family owned and run with both of McCorkell's sons, Matthew and Nathan, and wife involved in the day to day of the business.

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