The good folks at LNP interviewed Hush Money Bikes partner Chris Caldwell on Hush Money Bikes plans to move to West End Market on Lemon Street. Reprinted from lancasteronline.com.
Read the original article on lancasteronline.com.
A year after the owners of the former Huber’s West End Market unveiled ambitious plans to renovate the historic Lancaster city property, work is finally underway to uncover the large windows of the circa-1920 building that began as a car dealership and then housed a farmers’ market.
While the ongoing renovations will bring some life back to the building where the Huber family closed their namesake grocery store in April 2021, the construction will stop well short of the original plans to create a sleek, new space with room for a restaurant, upstairs yoga studios and a bike shop with a mezzanine.
Faced with a hefty price tag for their desired renovation of the property they renamed West End Market, owners Adam and Tracey Davis dramatically scaled back the scope of the project, which no longer includes a full renovation and a build-out for a new restaurant and studio space on a second floor.
Instead, the Davises will expose the long boarded up windows of the building and do just enough to allow Hush Money Bikes to move into a 3,000-square-foot space in the back before they put the owners of that Lancaster city bike shop in charge of finding tenants for the rest of the building.
“We admire and trust the owners of Hush Money Bikes and fully support the direction that they are going to take the building and market,” said Tracey Davis, who along with her husband, Adam, bought the property in April 2021 for $1.01 million. Adam Davis is CEO of the Tait Group, a Lititz-based events staging company.
“It has been a very circuitous route with a few bumps in the road to get the West End Market to where it is now. However, in many ways this path has led us back to our original vision, which was to create a truly community-driven space,” Tracey Davis said.
The Davises declined to estimate the cost for the original renovation project or share what they are spending on the current work.
Huber’s West End Market was started in 1960 by Arthur Huber and then taken over in 1972 by his son Glenn and his wife Dee. It occupied roughly 2,000 square feet at the front of the building at 501 W. Lemon St.
In 1989, the Hubers took over the adjacent market, West End Farmers Market, which had operated since 1954 out of what had once been a Dodge-Plymouth dealership. The extra space was used mostly for storage.
In 1999 Huber’s was used to film some scenes for “Girl, Interrupted” a movie starring Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder. The scenes shot inside the market did not make it into the finished movie but appeared in an extended cut.
After the property was sold to the Davises and the grocery store closed in April 2021, the owners of The Horse Inn in Lancaster city said they would take over operations of the market as they developed and expanded it. But their intention to open immediately was shelved as more ambitious plans were developed for a full-scale restaurant. The Davises even secured a restaurant liquor license for the space, which they have since sold.
The Horse Inn owners did not respond to a request for comment about the change of plans.
But Chris Caldwell, whose Hush Money Bikes was always slated to occupy a space in the back, said higher than expected construction costs meant the property owners needed to charge much higher rent to keep from losing money.
“It was just too much for us and the Horse Inn to handle. … We’re a bike shop. We can afford some rent, but we can’t afford the most expensive rent in the whole city,” said Caldwell
Caldwell credits the Davises with being open to an alternative plan that lets Hush Money Bikes get into part of the space and then look for ways to develop the other areas.
“We kind of have the vision for the whole space, so Adam trusts in that, and will stay out of the way,” said Caldwell, who noted their master lease agreement gives them responsibility without major liability. “We’re not going to be left holding the bag if we can’t find any tenants.”
Caldwell says he hopes to be able to open the new shop in November. The move from 237 N. Prince St. will give them 50% more room and a bright, airy workspace even if it lacks some of the amenities – such as a new HVAC system – that were part of the original plans.
“It’s not going to be climate controlled to a ‘t’. … We’re just rolling with fans,” said Caldwell, who nevertheless noted that fans seem to do an adequate job keeping things from becoming sweltering even on the hottest summer days.
Caldwell is an original co-founder of The Common Wheel, a nonprofit Lancaster city bike shop that began in 2014 and now has a retail bike shop at 324 N. Queen St. and a bicycle co-op at a former city pumphouse in Reservoir Park at 701 E. King St. He started the for-profit Hush Money Bikes in April 2020 with Ted Houser and Nate Baker, both of whom previously worked at The Common Wheel.
Caldwell, who says he originally wanted to open The Common Wheel in part of the Huber’s West End Market building, said he also considered buying the building with his Hush Money Bikes partners when they heard the property was for sale.
“I’ve wanted to put a bike shop in here for a long time,” said Caldwell, who lives in his childhood home less than a block away from Huber’s West End Market and recalls earning his first money by picking up items from the store and delivering them to an older neighbor..
While he is open to a wide variety of proposals, Caldwell said he has already been in contact with some possible tenants for the former grocery store space in the front as well as a middle space that he only ever recalled being used as storage.
Caldwell says the former grocery store space in the front would be ideal for someone selling prepared foods and coffee along with grocery items, noting that it still has the necessary city permits for such a use. The middle area could be suited for a variety of retail uses while a large parking lot and an adjacent grassy area could eventually host a patio, food trucks or some other setup, he said.
The Davises retain the right to develop the second-floor space above the former grocery store.
Caldwell says he envisions a develop-as-you-go process at West End Market that begins with the opening of the bike shop and then can evolve as chance and opportunity allow. He said he is drawing inspiration from the way the owners of Tellus in downtown Lancaster created a sprawling restaurant and entertainment complex from a small furniture store that opened in just one part of their current building.
“We’re pretty much going to build the bike shop out of stuff we find in there. That’s kind of how we build bike shops, with scraps,” he said. “We’re not covering anything up, we’re not making anything look too pretty.”
Caldwell, who has been involved in the redevelopment plans from the beginning, says the current iteration suits him the most, saying it fits with his own personal style for creating retail spaces as well as his interest as a longtime neighbor.
“The biggest concern – from someone who grew up in this neighborhood – is that it would be bought by someone who would put in a soulless condo,” Caldwell said. “I’m really glad that we’re going to be invested in making this a cornerstone of the neighborhood.”