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Earth Treks plans to build the largest indoor rock gym in the country in one of the former Sports Authority headquarters buildings in Englewood.
"We have leased 52,000 square feet of space and plans are to begin construction in August. Our goal is to open by about the middle of 2018," said Chris Jenkins, Earth Trek chief operating officer, said. "The ceilings are high enough to construct the boulder climbing wall but we plan to raise the roof to accommodate the rope climbing wall."
He said the facility will be similar to the company's facility in Golden, only larger.
"The Golden facility is 29,000 square feet," Jenkins said. "Like Golden, the Englewood facility will have the climbing walls, locker rooms and a fitness center. There will also be a yoga center. We plan to offer a new service at Englewood by offering child care for customers."
Brad Power, Englewood community development director, said the announcement is good news for the community.
"We knew the new property owners were looking at the climbing facility and we are glad to see that worked out for them," he said. "This will be a great business for that location. We expect it will bring a lot of people to the climbing facility and that will be a plus for the business as well as the other businesses in the area."
He said the announcement will hopefully spur more interest in the remainder of the former Sports Authority headquarters site. He said the it is unlikely that the owner will attract tenants providing the same number of jobs as Sports Authority once had.
But the proposed climbing gym is expected to generate a lot of activity, as the Earth Treks facility in Golden is slightly more than half the size of the new site and about 1,000 people a day visit the Golden facility.
Power said the new climbing facility is expected to draw people from around the metro area, and he expects it will put the site on the map.
Jenkins explained the climbing walls called "bouldering" are about 15 feet high with hand holds on the routes. Climbers don't need to be attached to safety ropes. He stressed that the climbing walls will be designed specifically for the new facility.
The Golden facility offers 300 rope routes and about 100 boulder challenges. There will be more routes and challenges on the Englewood walls.
The taller climbing challenges are called "rope walls." In Englewood the rope wall will be about 45 feet high, so climbers must be attached to a safety rope to prevent injury in case of a fall.
The Earth Treks facility will occupy 52,000 square feet of the 92,000-square-foot building at the south end of the location, at the corner of Kenyon Avenue and Jason Street. No information is available yet on possible tenants for the remainder of the building.
A second building, covering 118,000 square feet on the north end of the lot and facing Hampden Avenue, is also being leased, with an indoor storage facility shaping up as a tenant for part of the building and no information available for the rest of the space.
Earth Treks was founded in 1998 by famous climber Chris Warner, who currently is in Nepal.
The first Earth Treks indoor facility was opened in Columbia, Maryland, in 1997. There are now three facilities in Maryland and Virginia, and the Golden facility opened in 2013.
West Hampden Investors owns the two buildings on the Englewood site and the large adjacent parking lot.
The property was developed to its current configuration in 1994 and the site was leased to Gart Brothers Sports in 2001. Sports Authority bought out Gart Brothers in 2003 and made the Jason Street site corporate headquarters.
In March 2016, Sports Authority cited debts of $1.1 billion as the reason it declared bankruptcy.
The bankruptcy court ordered liquidation of all stock and fixtures at the more than 100 stores around country.
In June the company began closing its headquarters and eliminated 461 jobs. Portions of the headquarters were used longer and were finally closed down in December.
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