Central Rock Continues to Expand in the Northeast and New Markets

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Central Rock Gym Fenway
Central Rock Gym, which already opened three new facilities in the Boston area this year―including Fenway, pictured here―has five more grand openings on the way. (All images courtesy of Central Rock Gym)

Central Rock Gym recently announced a number of new facilities that are planned to open in the remaining months of this year and in 2023. As a result, and upon completion of all the ongoing projects, Central Rock—which was CBJ’s Developer of the Year in 2019—will possess a total of 22 locations and be one of the largest climbing gym chains in the United States. (Currently, Movement is the only other developer with at least 20 climbing gyms in the country that are open or announced). Moreover, Central Rock’s growth is also noteworthy in being entirely the result of self-builds (i.e., not through acquisitions of other facilities that were previously in existence under different ownership).

 

Most of Central Rock’s development has thus far been in the Northeast, including three new gyms in the Boston area: a gym across from Fenway Park in downtown Boston (Fenway); a gym in the Boston suburb of Cambridge (Harvard Square); and a gym in the city’s Watertown region (Arsenal Yards). All three gyms opened this year with notable linkage to public transportation. (For example, Central Rock Gym Fenway is accessible by the city’s Green Line subway, which has historically had no proximity to any climbing gyms; and the Harvard Square gym, located on the second floor of a building overlooking Harvard Square, is just feet away from the T Stop on Boston’s Red Line subway.)

Among the new gym announcements are a 20,000-square-foot facility of mixed climbing planned for Troy, New York, and a 20,000-square-foot (bouldering-focused) facility planned for Tampa, Florida. Each new development project is the result of Central Rock’s push to add more gyms while also opening gyms “in new markets where the climbing community is still underserved.” In fact, development of the Tampa facility was the result of Central Rock’s preexisting partnership with Buffalo, New York-based Resurgence Brewery; Resurgence was building a new brewery in Tampa and reached out to Central Rock with an invitation to build a new gym alongside the brewery.

CRG Tampa
The planned Central Rock Gym in Tampa (depicted here) will be the gym developer’s first facility outside of the Northeast.

“We have loved our partnership with Resurgence Brewery next to our Buffalo Gym,” Ed Hardy, Central Rock Gym’s owner, told CBJ. “It has given our members a great option for continuing their community experience after a climbing session. When Resurgence asked if we’d be interested in partnering with them for a Gym/Brewery combo in Fort Myers, Florida, we started looking at the geographical area and realized that the whole area needed more climbing gyms. After a few months of research, we decided that partnership with Resurgence in Fort Myers was a great idea, but that Tampa could also use more climbing as well. We are really excited about this next phase of growth that continues to expand in the Northeast, as well as providing some new gyms to the Florida community.”

Other planned Central Rock Gym facilities include a new location for their other Cambridge gym in the Boston area―which will be moving less than a mile away, to the Fresh Pond Mall―as well as bouldering-focused facilities in West Hartford, Connecticut, and Chelsea, New York. Practically all gyms will feature training boards, fitness rooms, weights, and exercise equipment as additional amenities.

CRG Troy
Upon completion, the new Central Rock Gym locations―such as the planned Troy facility (shown) near Albany, the capital of New York―will bring the gym chain’s total to 22, the most in North America.

“Central Rock Gym has continued to grow as the national awareness of climbing has moved into the spotlight with new films, and the addition to the Olympics,” Hardy said. “Our most important form of growth is to provide our existing communities with additional locations. This gives our members more climbing options, and helps reduce commute times for segments of the population that do not have gyms. We also like providing our members with a network of gyms so they get to explore different topography and route setting styles within one metropolitan area. While we feel most passionate about expanding locally, we are also on the lookout for markets where the climbing community still needs its first or second gym. This is why we went to Manhattan, upstate New York, and now down to Tampa.”