Like a phoenix, we rose from the ashes ... We planned for this day.
The brainchild of NYC Gotham Riders founder Ronnie Pichson and his husband Stefon Davis, the Gotham Depot Moto Storage – or g.d.m. – opens its doors this month in Greenpoint as the latest of the city’s community garage motorcycle facilities.
It’s everything a boutique facility could offer … wide parking spots, private storage units, individual electric outlets for trickle charging, lounge space and tunes … all in an upscale, designed, almost club-like atmosphere.
A jazzy version of Billy Holiday’s Autumn in New York plays over the speaker system, while visitors are greeted by slate-colored brick walls, stainless steel lockers, dark brown bamboo veneer wall cladding, tin tile wallpaper … reminiscent of British pub ceilings, two covered skylights, black metal roof beams, and black reflective lines on the floor, designating motorcycle spots.
A lot went into the ‘speakeasy’ look and feel of the new facility, Pichson says, adding the Box Street garage – dubbed Area 51 – was originally a fishmonger’s warehouse. It now also includes a steel lounge subfloor/mezzanine with comfortable couch seating, providing an easy vantage point to see whatever’s playing on the 85” mounted widescreen TV. And there’s personal touches like a decorative skull from Bali the couple saw on a recent getaway, and a soon-to-come suspended vintage motorcycle … Pichson’s father’s 1965 Harley Davidson 1200 FLH. Monte Pichson was one of the original Lords of Flatbush, a regular at Rolling Thunder, and a 36-year veteran of the US Coast Guard.
Motorcyclists will be asked to park their bikes facing forward, to “show off their babies.” And while tools, stands and an oil drum are available for members to do simple maintenance such as oil changes, g.d.m. is not a ‘wrenching’ garage per se.
Pichson and Davis said initially they had looked at spaces in Sunset Park and Industry City but realized quite quickly that the Greenpoint location was better situated for their needs.
“Location, location, location … as they say,” Pichon said, adding their dealings with the building’s owners, who manage 86 properties in the area, sealed the agreement. They’ve signed a five-year lease on the property and have an open invitation to expand the facility into the shop behind them if the venture proves as successful as they hope.
If that commitment to g.d.m. wasn’t enough, Davis, who boasts a fair amount of ink on his body, now features the company logo tattooed on his upper chest.
“I was tired of my bike being knocked over, or even moved, when I parked on the street,” says Davis, who originally posed the idea for g.d.m. to Pichson in the park area behind IKEA in Redhook. “We wanted to redefine what is out there for moto storage.”
Gotham Depot Moto Storage ... the devil's in the details — Rahoul Ghose
Location, location, location … as they say.
Pichson and Davis, who’ve been together now for 18 years, hail from the fashion industry, the former a 22-year veteran of Calvin Klein, and the latter a designer for a major woman’s sportswear manufacturer. Both were laid off in late spring due to COVID’s disastrous effect on the fashion industry and clothing retailers in general.
That 2020 reality forced the couple to pivot their life’s goals and to dip into their retirement savings. But it also afforded them the luxury of three months to brainstorm and execute a plan for g.d.m., devoting time to learn about LLCs and starting a small business, researching building codes and insurance requirements, and analyzing what riders wanted in a storage facility, before applying their design aesthetic and talents to the finished concept.
“Like a phoenix, we rose from the ashes,” Davis says, flashing a warm smile. “We planned for this day.”
At 3,250 square feet, g.d.m. features parking spots for 48 bikes at the membership level, as well as space for those just wanting to store their motorcycles during the NYC winter months. There’s even one space, ‘the deluxe suite’ as they dub it, which will feature velvet stanchion rope dividers and a much larger spot for one special customer. It’s a temperature-controlled and security-monitored facility which will be staffed during regular business hours on weekdays.
The primary goal is providing services for the community membership and building relationships beyond just motorcycles, Pichon says. That includes a ‘white glove’ concierge service, where the company will pick up or drop off your bike for an additional fee using their newly acquired black panel Ford Transit F-250 van, which features both a winch system and ramp. They call it the ‘Death Star’, and it’s already seen service, rescuing one stranded BQE rider recently from a precarious situation.
The young motorcyclist, who had to push his stalled bike down an exit ramp into Williamsburg, quipped, ‘You’re an angel’, recalled Pichson, who had to maneuver the van quickly to get onto the opposite side of the busy thoroughfare. He responded, without hesitation, “No, we’re g.d.m.”
Pichson and Davis want to take that community spirit already seen amongst NYC motorcyclists one step further.
There are plans to host member events for seasonal holidays – in the near future, possibly Thanksgiving and Octoberfest – as well as informational events; the company has already partnered with insurance giants Progressive and Liberty Mutual to showcase the options available to members.
The ‘family’ atmosphere even extends to pets: you will undoubtably meet one of the Pichson/Davis canines if you do visit: their 16-year-old Jack Russell Molly, a quirky Chihuahua named Sassy, or their new German Shepard pup Ripley.
Ronnie Pichson and Stefon Davis, Gotham Depot Moto Storage — Rahoul Ghose
I was tired of my bike being knocked over, or even moved, when I parked on the street. We wanted to redefine what is out there for moto storage.
Ultimately g.d.m.’s manta comes down to three words, Pichson says: “Hospitality, security and comfort.”
The acronym itself holds some humor for the couple with the letter ‘g’, ‘d’, ‘m’ sounding a bit like a curse.
“It’s like … ‘You’re not parking with us? G*d damn, why not?” Pichson says.
Gotham Depot Moto (g.d.m) regular membership fees are $325 a month (including a required one-month security deposit). That gets you: 24/7 year-round access to the Greenpoint facility; a wide parking spot, private storage locker and bike winterizing; security features like being able to view your bike online through multiple, live cameras; and specialized member events on the calendar, even through the winter season.
But as a grand opening special, Pichson and Davis are offering a $75/ month discount through March 2021, making the monthly fee $250. Oversized vehicles are an additional $25/month.
Cold Storage fees are $150 a month, which include winterizing your bike and battery tenders to keep your ride charged up. There is a minimum stay requirement for winter storage.
Open enrollment for available spots began Sept. 27 and continues, with visits scheduled from 10 AM to 6 PM. You can arrange an appointment, which will include a personal tour, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 646.320.7528 or 646.284.0446 with any additional questions.
Pichson and Davis are also reaching out to adjoining businesses and the moto community as a whole, seeking to partner on events the facility could play host for.
“The possibilities are now endless,” says Davis, who can even see a day when g.d.m. has multiple locations.
In the future Gotham Depot Moto Storage decor will include artwork from local artists on the walls — Rahoul Ghose
You can find out more about Gotham Moto Depot Storage online at gothamdepotmoto.com or on the company’s social media: Facebook | Instagram.