A year and a half in the making, REI finally opened its SoHo store today in the Puck Building and we dropped by to check the space out. The 35,000 square foot, three-level store is the company's first in New York City. The new location has a ground-level service center for quick fixes for bikes and skis, areas that showcase the history of the Puck Building and items recovered/restored during the renovation, and a gear rental shop. There's also a community room for classes, and a meeting space for the store's non-profit partners. One major thing missing, however, is the climbing wall that is a fixture at many REI locations.

Since signing a lease at the historic location, REI and Callison, its architecture firm, have transformed the space, restoring and recovering items where possible. Restored items include the original ceiling on the ground floor, two steam engine flywheels — remnants of the printing presses housed in the building — and several lithographic stones found behind cellar walls during the demolition phase. REI also refurbished two chandeliers, used the original floor joists for stair treads and created merchandise displays out of other recovered items.

SoHo store manager Les Hatton told us that REI will cater to its 77,000 members in tri-state area and other New Yorkers by offering home delivery and the quick service for bikes and skis. Hatton also said that they're actively involved in the community with things like pulling weeds in parks around the city. The store and its 150 employees are already working with several organizations like Friends of the High Line, New York Restoration Project, the Prospect Park Alliance and the Bronx River Alliance, to name a few.