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  • Writer's pictureJoe Capozzi

Jack The Bike Man selling its warehouse, ending late founder’s dream for grand West Palm Beach home

Updated: Jan 15


Jack the Bike Man is selling this warehouse building that it purchased two years ago. The charity has been unable to raise money for renovations estimated to cost at least $5 million. (JOE CAPOZZI)

THE LATE JACK Hairston’s dream to convert an old West Palm Beach warehouse into a permanent home for his popular Jack The Bike Man charity has come to an end.


Six months after Hairston’s death, the charity’s board of directors has decided to sell the warehouse and find a smaller home, Alejandro “Alex” Hernandez, the charity’s executive director, announced on Jan. 11. 


Jack The Bike Man bought the building two years ago with grand plans for a permanent home for the bicycle charity but has been unable to raise enough money to pay for needed renovations. The estimated to cost of the renovations is at least $5 million, more than twice what the charity paid for the building. 


“The cost of renovations proved to be significantly higher than anticipated, and we believe this strategic move will help us better allocate resources to core programs,’’ Hernandez said in an email to charity supporters. 


“We are actively exploring opportunities to acquire a smaller, more suitable space that aligns with our mission,’’ he said. 


Jack The Bike Man currently operates out of a smaller building next door to the charity's warehouse on Claremore Drive. The lease for the charity's current space, just west of Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market, expired Dec. 31. Hernandez said the landlord has given the charity an extension through February.  


“We are in communications with the landlord to stay past that if need be,’’ Hernandez said in a text message Jan. 13. “We don’t have a new home yet. We’ve been searching but no success.’’


Jack Hairston, known as "Jack the Bike Man,'' in front of the charity's warehouse building in April 2023, three months before he died. (JOE CAPOZZI)

Jack The Bike Man has always led a nomadic existence. It was founded nearly 25 years ago in Hairston’s yard on the north end of West Palm Beach, then moved over the years to various locations in the city. 


Along the way, it has grown into a popular charity focused on getting bicycles to people who need and depend on them to get to school and work and for recreation. 

 

The charity has given away thousands of bikes to underprivileged kids, often through school programs using good grades as incentives. It offers training and employment for adults in need or recently released from prison. 


In an interview in April 2023, Hairston said it was his dream to move Jack The Bike Man into the two-story warehouse, which would double as a community center. He eagerly showed off blueprints and artist renderings of the new home and led a reporter on a tour of the warehouse.


Here is a video of that tour:




Three months later, he was hospitalized with pneumonia. He died July 7 of a heart attack.


A few months later, the charity’s board, concerned about the lack of funds to pay for the renovations, agreed to retain a real estate agent to sell the warehouse building. 


The board hopes the sale will jump-start the charity’s search for a new home, even if that new home ends up in a city other than West Palm Beach. Lake Worth Beach has been mentioned as a possible landing spot. 


Jack the Bike Man purchased the building, an old Cheney Bros. warehouse at 426 Claremore, for $2 million, in February 2021 using a $1.5 million gift from the Mary Alice Fortin Foundation. Jack The Bike Man kicked in $100,000 and financed $400,000 with a mortgage, Hairston said in an interview last year. 


The charity’s current home, at 420 Claremore, is owned by NDT Development, which has plans for the site. Last fall, Sam Fisch Development posted an announcement on social media about “a new development project at 420 Claremore Drive.’’ 




The charity hopes its next home will be a permanent one that Hairston would be proud of.


Hernandez knows the clock is ticking. He’s reaching out to Jack the Bike Man supporters for help


“Your support remains crucial in this endeavor, as we aim to create a space that empowers us to reach even more individuals in need,’’ he said in the email. 

 

“Whether through monetary contributions or bicycle donations, your conditioned support will make a lasting impact.’’ 


On Thursday, Jan. 18, the downtown West Palm Beach restaurant Hullabaloo is hosting a fundraiser for the charity called “Happy Hour for a Cause’’ from 6-8 p.m.   


© 2024 ByJoeCapozzi.com All rights reserved.


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About the author

Joe Capozzi is an award-winning reporter based in Lake Worth Beach. He spent more than 30 years writing for newspapers, mostly at The Palm Beach Post, where he wrote about the opioid scourge, invasive pythons, the birth of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and Palm Beach County government. For 15 years, he covered the Miami Marlins baseball team. Joe left The Post in December 2020. View all posts by Joe Capozzi.

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