Rent Gouge Forces Bicycle Habitat to Consolidate 3 SoHo Stores on Lafayette Street
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Bicycle Habitat completed its SoHo consolidation earlier this month. After thirty-seven years at 242-244 Lafayette Street – the space in which it was founded – the venerable bike business was forced to downsize. The operation is now centralized up the block at 250 Lafayette.
242-244 Lafayette are now vacant, stripped of branding, and awaiting the next occupant(s). Because the new-old space is smaller – 2,500 square-feet – the company had held clearance sales through the entirety of summer. Some of the inventory that remained was apparently donated via Recycle-a-Bike.
Owner Charlie McCorkell did not renew the lease after September 30. As previously reported, the greedy landlord and his exhorbitant rent hike were ultimately to blame for the move. The two-storefront footprint is now fetching a whopping $72,000 per month, a near-fourfold increase. But Bicycle Habitat nevertheless lives on. McCorkell invested in a third rental property on the block five years ago, where the company will remain unperturbed for “several more years.”
“Landlords are seeing visions of sky high rents out of the range of us working retailers,” McCorkell told us last spring. “This had led to several vacant stores in the immediate area.” Including the adjacent 16 Handles which is remains on the market for some $30,000.
McCorkell and his then-girlfriend-now-wife, Esta Bigler, opened the original Bicycle Habitat in 1978, a time when SoHo was transitioning from its function as industrial zone.