World’s First Underwater Gym

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Photo: nytimes.com
Photo: nytimes.com
Photo: nytimes.com

Brooklyn Boulders will become the world’s first climbing gym to operate underwater. The gym will be built under Pier 57 which is a long-abandoned former shipping and passenger terminal that spans about a half-million square feet at West 15th Street in the meatpacking district in Manhattan, New York.

Brooklyn Boulders which operates gyms in Brooklyn, New York and Boston, Massachusetts is one of three lead tenants for the $200 million project which includes a beach club to be operated by prominent hotelier Andre Balazs, and fashion retailer Opening Ceremony.

The new climbing gym will take up about 20,000 square feet in the airtight concrete caissons that support the pier and provide occupiable space below water.

The New York Times is reporting that developer, Youngwoo & Associates, has rebranded Pier 57 the SuperPier, a term used in a 1952 article in Popular Mechanics magazine that detailed its construction. After the original Pier 57 was destroyed by a fire in 1947, it was rebuilt as a shipping and passenger terminal for the Grace Line. The builders eschewed the wooden piles that supported most piers, and instead used three caissons, enormous concrete boxes. The hollow boxes were poured in a diked basin upstate, then towed, floating, down the Hudson River to the pier site.

The boxes now form the pier’s basement, which Youngwoo has leased to the company Brooklyn Boulders for a climbing gym.

“The space down there is really cool — it is cold year round and you can feel that you are underwater,” said Lance Pinn, a co-founder of Brooklyn Boulders.

The company is also in talks to build an ice-climbing wall outside. “So not only will we be the only underwater climbing gym in the world and the only fully dedicated climbing gym in Manhattan, but we could have the only ice-climbing wall in a major American city,” Mr. Pinn said.  The project will be completed by 2015.

Mr. Pinn’s only competition in New York is Chelsea Piers, a large upscale athletic club with 11,000 square feet of climbing which is located at Pier 60, a tenth of a mile from the new SuperPier.

CrainsNewYork.com is reporting:

Andre Balazs, developer and operator of the hugely successful nightlife High-Line area venue and hotel the Standard, will install a roughly 30,000 square foot facility on the building’s second floor that will house a pool, spa and outdoor terrace.
Opening Ceremony meanwhile will have a series of shops installed in modified shipping containers, the first of what Youngwoo & Associates is planning will be an array of tenants who use the containers or “Incuboxes” as space for their stores. Opening Ceremony, which operates a shop in Soho, is setting up a temporary 16,000 square foot space at the pier for Fashion Week from September 5-12. According to sources, its permanent store will be of similar size.
The waterside complex, which is undergoing a gut renovation by Youngwoo costing millions of dollars, will be ready for permanent occupancy by 2015 the company said.
The deals are not yet signed but the tenants have all signed letters of intent and are expected to complete the transactions in the coming months.
The roof of the two-story pier will be an open public space that will be used for film screenings during the Tribeca Film Festival.
Youngwoo & Associates has spent months since it won approval to redevelop the pier in April bringing the long-forgotten property back into the public’s consciousness. During the summer, it installed several food tenants in the space to draw from the 18 million or so yearly visitors that pass by the pier along the adjacent Hudson River Park that spans the waterfront on the West Side.