Boulevard Bikes, Logan Square’s Longtime Commuter Cycle Shop, Plans to Relocate
It’s the end of an era. After some 14 years of serving transportation cyclists at its Logan Square location, Boulevard Bikes, 2535 North Kedzie, is planning a move to greener pastures.
Boulevard was opened in 2003 by veteran bike mechanic Kevin Womac, with a focus on selling city bikes for practical transportation, plus touring and fixed-gear cycles, as well as commuting accessories. As the neighborhood has steadily gentrified over the years, Boulevard has been a constant, serving customers from various walks of life. (Disclosure: I worked at the shop for a few years, and it’s a Streetsblog Chicago ad sponsor.)
However, Womac says the store will likely be displaced this year due to plans for a new elevator at its building, which also houses the Logan Square Auditorium on the third floor, as well as businesses like Lula Café, Johnny’s Grill, and Mezcaleria Las Flores. According to Womac, landlord Saul Osacky wants to install the lift to make it easier for people with disabilities and seniors to access special events at the historic ballroom, and to facilitate the load-in of band and DJ equipment for concerts.
“There’s no ill will – Saul’s just being practical,” Womac says. “He can make in a night of alcohol sales [at the auditorium] what he charges me for a month of rent.”
Womac says the writing has been on the wall for about a year, when he asked Osacky about signing a new three-year lease, which he needed to apply for a small business improvement grant to make upgrades to the store. “Saul mentioned that he was planning to build the elevator behind the store,” Womac says. “Rather than have ladies walk through the alley, he’s going to turn [the bike shop] into a lobby.”
Womac added that he thinks its likely Osacky would add a bar in the space, similar to what was done when the nearby Logan Theater was refurbished and expanded a few years ago. He says that at the time of their conversation, Osacky told him that he was applying for permits for they elevator, and when those came through, the bike shop would need to move. About six months are left on the bike shop’s lease.
“Nothing is official yet,” Osacky told me. “We need to do some more work – we don’t have permits from the city yet.” The landlord said he would provide more info in the near future – I’ll update this post if I hear more from him.
In the meantime, Womac says he’s searching for a new home for the bike shop. He’s been looking up and down Milwaukee Avenue for a storefront with a large basement for cycle storage. He’s been focusing on the stretch between the Blue Line’s California station and the Spaulding Avenue entrance to the Logan Square stop. While rents have risen on this segment of Milwaukee in recent years, Womac says he’s already paying a premium for his current space, so moving to another prime location won’t be a major financial strain.
Womac says his main concern is finding a location with easy access to low-stress streets for test rides. Currently, it’s easy for customers to take a cruise on the service drives of Kedzie Boulevard or nearby side streets like Linden Place and Albany Avenue.
“We get a lot of ‘I’m thinking about getting back on a bike’ customers,” Womac explains. “You can’t just put them on Milwaukee. That’s the big challenge.”