Spring has sprung and the warming weather has let loose a raft of new climbing gym announcements. Here are just a few notable developments across the US.
High Point – Memphis
On the banks of the Mississippi River, Memphis will be getting their first and second commercial climbing facilities. First up will most likely be High Point Climbing with a targeted opening date in the middle of 2018. This will mark High Point’s fourth gym and largest facility to date.
Coming in at an estimated 32,000 sfc, the ground-up building will be patterned after their Chattanooga gym, in that it will contain sport climbing, bouldering, a kid zone and an outdoor wall. Preliminary design has the sport area at fifty-two feet tall which is similar to their Birmingham location. The facility will also offer traditional fitness spaces including an aerobics room, weight training area and a yoga studio.
Johnny O’Brian, managing partner at High Point tells CBJ that Memphis, “…is where we were going to build our initial project until we were presented with the opportunity in Chattanooga’s downtown tourist district. However, east Memphis has always been on our list of growth priorities.”
Soulville – Memphis
Last September, the Hollywood filmmaker-turned-University of Memphis professor Tom Shadyac (think Ace Ventura, Pet Detective), purchased at auction the bankrupt New Towne Center for $3.9 million. The Center is a 77,000-square-foot community anchor that a local community development corporation tried to develop during the economic downturn.
Shadyac plans to revive the town center with a climbing gym and recreation center, a 400-seat performing arts center and a “pay-what-you-can” restaurant. According to the Memphis Flyer, a state-of-the-art climbing gym will be built in the 26,500 square foot space that was formerly designated for “the Whole Foods that never came,” Shadyac said (Town Center was originally built to house a grocery store). Part of the roof will be raised 45 to 50 feet for a high-climbing wall, along with a 15-foot bouldering section. A juice bar and flex-space for yoga, dance, meditation, weightlifting, and cardio will overlook the gym.
Minneapolis Bouldering Project
The folks behind the uber-hip Seattle and Austin Bouldering Projects are at it again; this time in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “Minneapolis is the perfect place for a bouldering gym,” Will Hanson, partner at Bouldering Project and the one spearheading the project told CBJ. “It’s one of the fittest cities in the U.S., it has a lot of young folks, and everything is covered in ice for 9 months of the years (that’s a bit of an exaggeration, even if it does feels that way). Plus, there is already a really vibrant, engaged climbing scene and a dedicated yoga culture as well.”
The new facility is based on the Seattle and Austin facilities and even share the same architect. Sitting between two trendy neighborhoods, the 42,000 square foot building will feature 22,000 square feet of climbing with the rest of the space split among the yoga studio, fitness studio, youth climbing, weight room, climbing training, lobby, lounge, locker rooms, and administration. The gym also shares a roof with Pryzes Brewing, which is building out a taproom, brewery, and restaurant space.
They will be making a few changes to the layout of the gym based on the feedback from their other facilities. “In Seattle and Austin we’ve seen a greater demand for dedicated climbing training and dedicated advanced youth climbing terrain, so we are including more of both of those,” Hanson said. “Minneapolis is a super bike friendly city, so we’re working on improving our bike parking and incentives for members who commute on bikes. But for the most part, we’ll continue to focus on big, open bouldering spaces, lots of natural light, quality routesetting, and robust yoga and fitness programs. And we are making our sauna’s way bigger (did I mention it gets cold here?).”
MetroRock – Brooklyn, NY & Littleton, MA
Massachusetts-based MetroRock is going big in 2017. Their new Brooklyn location is scheduled to open later this summer and following that will be their gym in Littleton, a far out suburb of Boston this November.
The Brooklyn facility clocks in at 23,000 square feet of climbing and features the US’s only Mammut retail shop. The facility is the anchor tenant for a Bushwick development that will consist of bars and restaurants and is 100 yards from the Subway. Pat Enright tells CBJ, “This area is relatively expensive for a climbing gym. However, a rate and volume analysis of the Brooklyn climbing gym easily justifies this higher lease rate.”
In the highly competitive Boston market Enright plans to open MetroRock’s fifth climbing facility which is located in an outdoor mall. Enright was skeptical at first that a climbing gym could be profitable in a high-rent development. But after being wooed by the developer for years, Enright decided that a few things had changed, “One, the industry is growing and the growing desire for climbing gyms makes an entrance in new demographics easier,” he said. “Two, as an outdoor shopping mall (our immediate neighbor is a cinema) the marketing is somewhat built in. Three, the developer really worked hard to have us join his development. All these things justified the higher rent that comes with these types of developments.”
Bloc Yard- Spokane, WA
The climbers of the eastern Washington city of Spokane, (pop. 211,000) will soon have another place to boulder when the Bloc Yard, a bouldering-only gym opens this month. The 9,756 square foot building will feature 4,500 sfc and sixteen foot tall walls.
Owner, Adam Healy (who is also owner of Solve Climbing holds) told Outtheremonthly.com, “We saw a great opportunity to build a bouldering-only gym to service the current climbers, and introduce the next generation of climbers to this sport we love.” Spokane currently has one full-service climbing gym, Wild Walls, which opened in 1993.
Gravity One – Broomfield, CO
Tapping into the every growing Front Range gym scene is newcomer, Gravity One in Broomfield, Colorado. Broomfield lies on busy Highway 36 between Denver and Boulder with the gym setting up shop in the hip urban center known as Arista.
The project is just getting underway and is expected to open in the winter of 2018. Jason Haas, Owner of Gravity One purchased the 2-acre property in February for $1.5 million and plans to construct a 22,000 square foot ground-up building with 17,000 sfc. Haas tells CBJ that inside, “We plan to have the full amenity workup – big fitness area, spin room, yoga studio, childcare.” He tells us that the project is similar in scope to other Front Range gyms with one big exception; he plans to have the tallest walls in the state which will top out at fifty-five feet.
According to Business Den, Haas, 35, is funding the $6.5 million project with a $5 million SBA loan, as well as local investors. And Harrington Stanko, which built the Movement Climbing + Fitness gyms in Denver and Boulder, is the general contractor.