Once the envisioned site for the ambitious, 22-story Cooper Tower, the southeast corner of Kiowa Street and Nevada Avenue will now soon be home to a rock climbing gym.
The veteran climbing gym owners have wanted to expand their Vertical Fitness business for some time. They spent countless days looking for just the right place, a tall building with an open architecture, when they happened to notice the “for sale” sign on the downtown building’s marquee a few months ago.
Although they won’t own the building outright, they worked out a lease-to-buy agreement with the building’s owner, 120 Kiowa Co.
Lara Groshong said the location proved perfect for their needs.
“We live downtown,” she said. “First of all, it’s the population center of our city. We also like supporting the quirky individually owned and non-franchises that are found downtown. We’re trying to support the concept of living and playing and shopping in an area you can either walk to or use alternative transportation.”
The Groshongs have a majority stake in Vertical Fitness, which includes a few other investors.
The new gym already has a name, CityRock, and construction of a 45-foot tall climbing wall is under way. The wall, a steel-framed structure surrounded by cabinet-grade plywood and coated with a stucco-like finish, will stand where the former movie theater screen was. The Groshongs then will have a deck constructed to level out the area.
At 10,000 square feet, the climbing gym is four times the size of their climbing area in Monument, which they also plan to keep open.
The other 7,000 square feet will be occupied by a CrossFit gym and offices for Lifequest Transitions Team, an elite personal training and adventure racing organization.
The event brings a turnabout of fortunes for the former movie theater, which was scheduled for demolition last year when developers planned to erect the high-rise Cooper Tower complex on the site.
CityRock will offer memberships by the year and the month, and will issue day passes as well, much like a traditional fitness club. But visitors won’t find stairsteppers, treadmills and weight machines lining the floors.
“Our mission as an organization is to strengthen individuals and communities through unique, fun fitness,” Groshong said. “Climbing is a means to gain strength, but what we’re trying to do is bring together organizations that have the same goal as we do. CrossFit fits in with that ideal because it’s group fitness oriented. We’re trying to get away from the traditional fitness club, where you go and run on a treadmill with your headphones on. In a way it’s a fitness center, but it’s a different kind of fitness center.
CrossFit, a non-traditional fitness regimen, is growing in popularity nationwide. It requires participants to flip giant tires, perform hand-stand pushups, swing kettlebell and heave 30-pound medicine balls. It is popular among military members, police academies and martial artists because of its total-body strength and conditioning focus.
Its popularity also has been helped by a virtual community. Participants not only visit the CrossFit Web site, they obtain daily workout routines and report their performances.
The Groshongs plan a soft opening for CityRock during mid-December, with a grand opening early next year. The downtown gym will host after-school classes for children and adults, and also offer outdoor climbing and guiding services.
Large competitions are already being considered for downtown’s newest fitness and entertainment venue. Plans are also in works for CityRock to host the second Colorado High School State Climbing Finals during February.
Scott Prater covers real estate for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.