NEWS

  /  

October 5, 2001

BBW plans to reopen old location in spring

Things are looking up for Blackstone Bike Works (BBW), a bike shop and youth center that was devastated by an extra alarm fire last April. After months of operating out of semi-trailers, they hope to receive the rebuilding permit for their home in the Resource Center on 61st Street and Blackstone Avenue.

“It was a long struggle for us against the city, who wanted to tear down the building entirely after the fire," said BBW Director Andrew Gregg.

But now, with the demolition of the interior of the building and architectural plans complete, BBW hopes to receive a city permit within the week. If this happens, BBW expects to move back into their home mid-spring.

BBW was established in 1994 as a non-profit initiative. Its mission is to teach Hyde Park and Woodlawn community children about running a small business as well as the mechanics of bike repair. These children work in programs such as Earn-a-Bike, putting in hours at the bike shop in order to earn enough points to purchase a bicycle.

Since the fire in April, BBW has been operating out of an assemblage of semi-trailers located in a parking lot on 61st and Kenwood Avenue donated by the University. Sales over the summer were important to the business, which is typically busiest during May and June.

The fire, which devastated other parts of the Resource Center, left BBW's inventory virtually unharmed.

With an overflow of usable merchandise, Gregg was concerned with returning to operations as soon as possible. Its temporary location allowed BBW to remain in business over the summer, but took a toll on its role in the Hyde Park and Woodlawn neighborhoods.

“The fire has been tough on the kids who frequent the bike shop," Gregg said. “Our diminished capacity this summer prevented us from working with [the kids] as much as we would have liked. We'll survive though. We're committed to them and the neighborhood."

On Saturday October 6, Blackstone Bike Works is having a fundraiser on the quads. Plans include food, drinks, music and, of course, used bikes. The festivities will begin at 10 a.m. and run through 4 p.m. Profits generated from the fundraiser will be used in order to allow BBW to continue offering community youth programs.

Also occupying the building at the time of the fire were internationally renowned artist and facility manager Dan Peterman, Baffler, a Chicago literary journal, Big Fish Furniture, a woodshop which has recently launched “Schoolfish," a carpentry skills-in-schools program, and an artists' haven called Monk Parakeet, none of whom could be reached for comment but all of whom currently plan to move back into the building upon its completion.