A sizable rock-climbing community in the Twin Cities is underserved, according to Nate Postma, the founder and president of the locally based company Vertical Endeavors
. Numerous area rock-climbing gyms have gone out of business through the years, he explains.
Vertical Endeavors runs several indoor rock-climbing gyms in St. Paul, Duluth, and Warrenville, Ill. In St. Paul, it offers indoor and outdoor lessons, youth programs, and group events, along with a pro shop, weight equipment, showers, lockers, and year round climate control, its website states.
As an indication of the sport's popularity, the St. Paul Vertical Endeavors location sees over 100,000 individual climbers a year. Many of them become repeat customers, Postma says.
For years the company scoped out various sites for a potential Minneapolis location.
Postma was pleased when Mark Krogh, the principal of Java Properties
, approached Vertical Endeavors about the possibility of bringing an indoor rock-climbing gym to 26th and Nicollet Avenue in Southwest Minneapolis, as a part of a larger proposal to revamp a couple buildings on the block.
With the help of Minneapolis-based DJR Architecture
, developer First
& First LLC is heading the $5 million project.
The gym will go into an 11,000-square-foot space that once housed the Ice House Studio in the Whittier neighborhood.
Postma says the $2 million state-of-the-art facility will be among the largest in the country. It could be as high as 60 feet, with 25,000 square feet of climbing space. Many climbing gyms are half that size, or even smaller, he says.
It'll accommodate different styles, abilities and ages, with top-roped climbing, bouldering, and auto-belays (which allow people to go solo). "This will put Minneapolis on the map," he says, adding, "Our customers are destination-oriented."
A branch of St. Paul's well-known burger joint, the Blue Door Pub
, will be the second-largest tenant next to the gym, while the popular Azia restaurant is returning to the corner with a new concept, according to Krogh. Thirteen apartments, another restaurant, coffee shop, offices, courtyard and parking are also part of the plan.
Krogh says the rock-climbing gym will draw many new people to the restaurant-filled avenue, dubbed Eat Street. "I really believe this
is going to be the next Uptown," he says. "It should be exciting. I
think it's going to bring a lot of energy to Eat Street."
Source: Nate Postma, founder and president of Vertical Endeavors
Writer: Anna Pratt