Refried Cycles quietly closed last year after nearly 10 years in the Castro. Now, a mysterious new business is occupying the space, and tipster Holly G. asked us if we knew what was going on.
After a remodel, the location bears little resemblance to the former bike shop, and Holly says it appears to have been operating as a co-working space for the last two months.
Hoodline visited the business, and spoke with someone out front who preferred to remain anonymous. She confirmed that it was being used as a co-working office, but declined to give us the name or the owners' information.
With frosted windows and no sign out front identifying the business (other than a note telling visitors to text the people inside), it's been difficult to determine with certainty who owns it.
A search through city websites shows that no planning or building permits have been filed for the address, and a fictitious business name, which would be necessary for operations, has also not been filed with the County Clerk.
Planning Department spokesperson Gina Simi told us that Refried Cycles was zoned for limited commercial use, but that no re-zoning paperwork had been filed since its departure.
According to Simi, if the space was being used for business or professional services, it would need to acquire a conditional use authorization to operate, as it's located in the Castro Neighborhood Commercial District and Upper Market Neighborhood Commercial Transit District.
A similar issue occurred in 2015, when an insurance business briefly occupied the ground floor of 4035 18th St. That business moved out after it was determined that it would need to obtain conditional use authorization.
The nameless co-working space is operating at a time when the rising number of commercial vacancies in the Castro has become a concern for both local merchants and residents, with many retail storefronts shutting down.
While some small business owners cited high rents as an issue, others pointed to the conditional use process, which can be lengthy and prohibitively expensive for businesses that are paying rent before they open their doors.