One of the Englewood buildings that housed the headquarters office of now defunct Sports Authority retail giant is on track to open this summer as perhaps the biggest climbing gym in the U.S.
Earth Treks Climbing and Fitness is turning one of the buildings at the former headquarters of Sports Authority, 1050 W. Hampden Ave., into a 53,000-square-foot climbing gym. The one time warehouse-turned-office, is getting new height added to it for climbing walls and bouldering areas. The company’s CEO Robert Cohen declined to comment on the amount of the building investment.
“When possible, we prefer to repurpose existing buildings – not only does this allow us to find opportunities where they otherwise may not have existed, but it also allows us to become a part of, and hopefully add to, the vibrant communities that already existed,” Cohen said.
The former Sports Authority headquarters building in Englewood is being transformed into what could be the biggest climbing gym in the U.S. The 53,000-square-foot gym is expected to open this summer.
Sports Authority filed for bankruptcy March 2, 2016. After a series of court battles, fire sales in 450 stores and selling the naming rights at Mile High football stadium, the owner of the property, Etkin Johnson Real Estate Partners sold the two building-campus in April 2017 for $15.7 million to West Hampden Investors LLC.
The climbing gym is taking one of the two buildings.
When the Englewood facility opens it will be the company’s second in metro Denver. Earth Treks opened a 29,000-square-foot climbing gym in Golden in 2014.
Last year, Earth Treks merged with San Francisco-based Planet Granite Climbing, Yoga and Fitness. At the time, the merger put nine climbing gyms under one company. Now, the combined company is opening two more gyms this summer – the Englewood facility and one in the Baltimore area.
“Metro Denver has always been great to us and also houses a unique population that is extremely interested in climbing, adventure and fitness in general,” Cohen said. “It’s a perfect fit. There is already a bustling community in the Englewood area – with the Denver Tech Center and University of Denver right around the corner and nearby light rail and bike trail access, we expect this new location to be highly successful.”
Back in the 1990s, when Earth Treks and Planet Granite first opened climbing gyms, there were less than 20 commercial climbing gyms in the United States. Today there are more than 425 climbing gyms across the country, Earth Treks says.
“We have two new locations opening this summer in Englewood, Colorado and Hampden, Maryland and we’re currently exploring opportunities both in our already-established regions, like the metro Denver area, and in prospective areas including Chicago and Dallas,” Cohen said.
Gallery: Earth Treks Climbing and Fitness
Earth Treks opened its first rock climbing gym in metro Denver area four years ago and now is months away from transforming the former headquarters building of the defunct Sports Authority into what it believes will be the largest indoor rock climbing gym in the country.
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The new Englewood gym will have a bouldering area, yoga studio, weight room, and child care.
“That community is in need of it and will support it,” said Tori Barnett, Earth Treks and Planet Granite marketing director. “There is demand for that sized facility.”
Earth Treks was started in Columbia, Maryland in 1990 by Chris Warner, who was living there at the time and now lives in Golden. He founded the company as an expedition company, taking people on big mountains and adventures.
Seven years later Warner found himself with a client caught in a blizzard on Denali in Alaska.
Warner told the client he always wanted to open a climbing gym. “The client said, ‘if you get me out of here, I will help you start that gym,’ ” Barnett said.
Earth Trek Climbing Gym opened in 1997. The new combined company now has about 700 employees and 30,000 members in three states and Washington, D.C.
“We believe so strongly in climbing and the transformative effect of it,” Barnett said. “Our mission is to share our passion for climbing.”
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