Stories From the Grease Pit
Currently, the Grease Pit is renting a small service shop at the corner of 28th Street and Bloomington Ave. in the Phillips Neighborhood. The building needed a lot of work. This past winter, collective members and volunteers worked on a number of physical building projects that took a lot of time, effort, and money. We got heat in the building, demolished and re-built parts of the building, re-glazed windows, scraped and painted all interior walls, built storage and work-tables, and moved bikes and parts around.
We are extremely happy to make it known that we are OPEN and have been open to the public since March of 2011. Our hours of operation are 6-9pm Monday through Thursday and 3-6pm Saturday and Sunday.
It costs us $550 in rent, not taking into account the cost of all of the improvements we've made to the building (or the utilities). When using the shop, please keep this overhead in mind, and donate what cash you are able, or make sure that you are doing some fair trade of work for parts and use of tools. None of the collective members or volunteers get paid, so helping us out makes running the shop a little less stressful.
Also! If you speak Spanish or Somali in addition to some English, we usually need help translating! Also! Keep your eyes open for events and fundraisers that we're going to be having! We want to see you there!
If you have some excess of money or bikes (or parts) in your life, please let us ease you of your burden! You can make checks out to The Grease Pit Bike Shop...but we prefer cash! Our address is:
The Grease Pit Bike Shop Troubles
BUT HAPPENED TO THE WEST BANK LOCATION? well, let me tell you a story...
The Cedar-Riverside neighborhood of Minneapolis, also known as the “West Bank” has a history of being the landing spot for new immigrants since the turn of the 19th into the 20th century. In the 1960s it became an area where radical and counter-cultural elements thrived. Since that time, there have been countless battles, large and small, against commercial development interests. Neighborhood people who have been invested in the lived experience of Cedar-Riverside have seen some victories, and many defeats, and continue to hold on. The recent loss of the Grease Pit Bike Shop space is just a part of a long line of struggles with development interests.
The Grease Pit had been subletting a space from Bedlam Theatre for three years at 1507 S. Sixth Street. This building, constructed as a beer depot and saloon in 1904, has for a long time been a site of merrymaking, debauchery, and of an off-beat community of people. It is located at a transit stop for the light rail and is situated on the greenway. It has an amazing view of downtown from the top deck.
On June 30, 2010, Bedlam Theatre and Café received a letter from their landlords, Fine and Associates. This letter gave this large space-based theatre two months notice to be out of their space with a request for the use of half of their building. Bedlam had received such odd letters before to no consequence, and so they tried to negotiate terms of this letter for two weeks. This turned out to be to no avail, so they then started looking for a temporary space to store their sets and shop. Basically, this gave Bedlam and Grease Pit six weeks in which to plan a move and figure out how to go forward.
The Grease Pit pays its rent and utilities entirely from the donations received during open hours—for use of the space, for used parts, for finished bikes. Summer, going into the school year, is our busiest time of year, and therefore when we receive a large portion of our donations for the year. Having to move our space and cull our parts at such a crucial fundraising time was extremely frustrating. Luckily, we had a few friends' garages and Sisters Camelot to store some of our parts, cabinets, and tools for nothing or next to nothing. But as it is, The Grease Pit is not currently available for use by the public.
So what happened? Why'd we get kicked to the curb? Earlier this year, Roise and Sherman Associates, who own the Cedar-Riverside Plaza (an idealistic town-in-town that has become low-income housing), received designation on the register of historic places and will be getting federal money to renovate these "towers." On the western side of the towers, there is limited access to parking and what access there is is controlled by Fine and Associates. In order to facilitate parking, Sherman Associates decided to tear down a building of theirs that currently houses a mosque. Part of this property has been in litigation with Fine Associates for several years.
Legally, Sherman is required to pay for the relocation of the mosque, a non-profit organization because Sherman is receiving federal money. Instead, as part of some sort of dealings between these two developers, Fine decided to take on the mosque and displace Fine's own non-profit tenant, The Bedlam. Since Fine Associates does not receive federal money, they have no legal obligation to finance the Bedlam's move, and neither will they be legally obligated to the mosque in such a way if they decide to kick them out when it's financially feasible for Fine to do so.
After we got kicked out, we moved in with Sister's Camelot for a few months. They let us store stuff for free, because they are super-nice. THEN, they thought they were gonna get kicked out of their space, and we found our new landlord/location through some friends and connections who like drinking coffee together. Some really awesome community bike shops helped us out by making very generous donations, which is how we made it through the winter and our building renovation projects. Thank you. You know who you are.