An independent news publication of
United Way of Lancaster County


The Common Wheel previews its soon-to-open Columbia branch

Guests chat at an open house for The Common Wheel’s new location in Columbia on Friday, May 17, 2024. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

Adriana Atencio

The Common Wheel team is incredibly excited about opening its third Lancaster County location in Columbia, Executive Director Adriana Atencio said.

The feeling is mutual, Columbia leaders said Friday at an open house introducing the new space to the community.

“It’s great to see The Common Wheel come here to Columbia,” Mayor Leo Lutz said. For the community’s young people in particular, he said, it’s going to be a wonderful addition.

Founded a decade ago, The Common Wheel has two locations in Lancaster city: A store and community center at 324 N. Queen St. and a co-op and donation center at the former pump house at Reservoir Park at 701 E. King St.

It announced its Columbia expansion last year. It is leasing the first floor of 137 Locust St., formerly home to the Lazy K Lounge. (The building is owned by Cimarron Investments, which bought it in 2022.)

Scheduled to open the first week in June, the site will offer bike sales and service as well as The Common Wheel’s signature community programming.

The Common Wheel, 137 Locust St., Columbia. (Photo: Tim Stuhldreher)

The latter includes Earn-A-Bike, an after-school program that offers children and young adults age 11 to 21 the opportunity to learn the basics of maintenance and repair by assembling a bicycle of their own. When they graduate, the bike is theirs to keep.

They’ll be learning hands-on skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives, Lutz said, as well as earning a bicycle they can use to get around Columbia.

The former bar has about 3,700 square feet of space. The wood-paneled bar itself was retained in the front room, which will house the showroom and service area. A wing to the rear will house programming. There will be half a dozen work stations there, for which a local Eagle Scout is building benches. There is a courtyard for outdoor programs and events; an elevated grassy area on the side could accommodate raised beds for a community garden, Atencio said.

Columbia Mayor Leo Lutz, left, and Police Chief Jack Brommer speak at the open house. (Photos: Tim Stuhldreher)

The bar had been condemned and was in terrible shape. Dozens of volunteers pitched in to help with remodeling. Grants completely covered the cost, Atencio said: $20,000 came from the United Way of Lancaster County’s Level Up & Launch program; $25,000 each came from Armstrong World Industries Foundation and High Foundation.

Two fulltime employees will staff the location, and it will serve as a home base for Director of Operations MacKenzie Hand. Later in the summer, The Common Wheel will look to bring several apprentices on board.

Left: Guests mix and mingle at The Common Wheel’s open house in Columbia. Right: Instead of a ribbon, The Common Wheel board Chair Juan Montes, left, and Director of Operations MacKenzie Hand hold a bicycle tube for Executive Director Adriana Atencio to cut. Click images to enlarge. (Photos: Tim Stuhldreher)

A number of key destinations are nearby: The Boys & Girls Club of Lancaster’s Columbia Clubhouse is on the next block; to the west, the Columbia trailhead of the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail is a 2-minute ride away at the Columbia Crossing River Trails Center. The Columbia School District’s hill campus, home to the middle school and high school, is about a 10-minute ride.

“Truly, this is needed here,” Police Chief Jack Brommer said. He hears frequently about the need for more mentoring and more programming for Columbia’s youth: “This answers both of those.”

Atencio, a passionate evangelist for the personal and community benefits of bicycling, agrees.

“What happens here in Columbia, I think, can be really transformative,” she said. “… I’m really eager to see what impact we have.”