Texas-based Summit recently announced that it is expanding its Plano location by adding an enclosed youth team training center (for Team Texas), a cafe, and an outdoor bouldering wall—all across the street from the preexisting Plano gym. The additions will be seen as an annex or “addendum” to the Summit Plano facility, and gym members will be able to use their membership cards to access the new features.
The new outdoor bouldering wall will span 2,000 square feet. The general contractor is Ridgemont Commercial Construction, the same company that built Summit’s Plano gym, with additional work done by Method Architecture and Reprise Design. The outdoor bouldering space will feature walls by Walltopia that measure 14 feet tall.
The team training center was inspired by the USA Climbing Training Center, and its forthcoming 1,240 square feet of walls were designed by Summit co-owner Chris LoCrasto. The cafe attached to the team training center will be a Dunn Brothers franchise.
Taking Advantage of an Opportunity
These planned additions to the Plano location were a result of property opportunity and spatial necessity. “When we built the Plano gym, the property was cut in half because we didn’t actually need the entire lot,” LoCrasto told CBJ. “So the landlord tried to figure out what to do with the front half—he tried to sell it or find someone who wanted to put a building on it that he would finance. All the while we were realizing that we wanted more bouldering in the Plano gym. We came to an agreement with the landlord that we wanted to add more bouldering…and we thought it would be cool to have an outdoor bouldering wall…and at the same time the youth team needed some space. It made sense to use the landlord’s piece of land that we hadn’t taken the opportunity on the first time.”
The inspiration to include a cafe in the annex came from a 2019 visit to Kletterzentrum Innsbruck, the sprawling climbing and training space in Austria that attracts elite competitors from around the world. “It’s so nice to sit there and drink your coffee and watch people on the outdoor sport wall, or look the other direction and watch Jakob Schubert smashing some 9a on the lead wall inside,” explained LoCrasto. “We decided, ‘Let’s try it.’ So we figured out what we could fit on that piece of land and we decided to go with a franchise. Dunn Brothers is out of Minneapolis and they have a location in Dallas that is next to one of our gyms that we’ve been going to for 15 years. It seemed like a logical franchise opportunity.”
Embracing the Climate When Possible
The Dunn Brothers cafe at the Summit Plano location will offer beer, wine, food and coffee. It is scheduled to open on February 22. The outdoor bouldering wall and the team training center were originally scheduled to open as well, but planned opening dates have been pushed back to undetermined times due to the pandemic.
Summit currently operates seven locations. LoCrasto sees the creation of outdoor bouldering areas on otherwise unused portions of lots as something other gym brands might opt to do in the future as well. “The winter time can be beautiful here—65 degrees and sunny,” LoCrasto said, speaking of the Dallas area. “We’ve just always thought it would be a cool thing for the membership to have the option to go to an outdoor wall. We’ve wanted to do it for a long time; the opportunity arose, so we jumped on it.”
John Burgman is the author of High Drama, a book that chronicles the history of American competition climbing. He is a Fulbright journalism grant recipient and a former magazine editor. He holds a master’s degree from New York University and bachelor’s degree from Miami University. In addition to writing, he coaches a youth bouldering team. Follow him on Twitter @John_Burgman and Instagram @jbclimbs. Read our interview Meet John Burgman, U.S. Comp Climbing’s Top Journalist.