Boston-based MetroRock Climbing Centers is expanding into Vermont with a planned $1.5 million facility near Burlington. The new gym, which is expected to open early in the summer of 2014 will have 16,000 square feet of Walltopia built climbing wall; 11,500 sqft of 50-foot tall roped terrain and 4,500 sq ft of bouldering which will top out at 16 feet. MetroRock VT will also have a challenge course on site.
The Burlington area is currently served by two private climbing walls and Petra Cliffs, a commercial climbing gym facility. The city of Essex sits just 5 miles to the east of downtown Burlington and offers great access to the University of Vermont’s large student population. Pat Enright, owner of MetroRock says, “The greater Burlington area has 6 universities and over 25,000 undergrads. The area supports over half of the entire state population.” In fact the new gym will be located right next St. Michel’s College and 2 miles off of I-89.
When looking to move to Vermont Enright and his team looked at the more than 200,000 people residing in the metro area and determined, “After a closer look one finds that there is a nice population density in and around the Burlington area and a favorable population demographic,” said Enright. He goes on to say, “What is hard to effectively quantify but has a positive impact in our industry is that there is a large itinerant/vacation/traveler element to the area. Lastly, we considered the types of activity options that were available to the general population and found that there was a dearth of alternatives. After careful consideration and much analysis we concluded that the area could support a modern climbing facility.”
Perhaps due to the historic nature of Burlington, and Vermont in general, Enright has had the most difficulty with getting through the red tape of the permitting process. Enright says, “We started our efforts in the summer of 2012. What we discovered is that Vermont, while publicly supporting development, has created state and local bureaucratic agencies that hamper or depress development. Ultimately, it took us a year to get through the entire process. One cannot overestimate the value of determination!”
The new MetroRock climbing center will mark only the second commercial climbing gym in the entire state of Vermont.