The Front Range rock climbing bug has struck again.
Brian Emerson, a 39-year-old IT executive, is building The Valley Climbing and Fitness, a 27,000-square-foot gym at 6560 S. Peoria St. in Centennial. It is slated to open in mid-2019.
“I do not think the market is well-served around here,” Emerson said. “I just think there is a real opportunity in the market for family and youth.”
The gym’s name is a nod to California’s Yosemite Valley, home of iconic climbing destinations El Capitan and Half Dome.
Emerson said 24,000 square feet will be dedicated to roped climbing and bouldering areas, including 120 climbing lanes and a 15-meter speed-climbing wall. About 4,000 square feet of climbing terrain will be kid-specific climbing and coaching space.
“When you are trying to build out a youth presence, (kids) don’t know climbing or climbing etiquette,” Emerson said. “We’re dedicating a big portion of the climbing areas to the youth side that’s 100 percent isolated from the rest of the climbers.”
The remainder of the gym will be set aside for CrossFit, yoga and other fitness.
Emerson, a California native, moved to Colorado about 11 years ago. He said he received a free climbing class for his 30th birthday and became instantly hooked, buying climbing gear from REI that same day. The sport has since become a family endeavor – his 10- and 8-year-old sons compete.
“It’s just become a core part of our family,” he said. “That’s the basis for (this gym).”
Emerson bought the 2.2 acres on Peoria Street for $320,000 on Feb. 16, according to property records.
He said the project will cost $6.5 million and is being funded through an SBA loan, personal funds and money from private investors.
Valley has hired Built Construction for the buildout of the gym, the same firm that worked on Louisville’s recently launched Evo Rock + Fitness. Bulgaria-based Walltopia is designing The Valley’s climbing walls.
Emerson joins a number of other entrepreneurs making a go at the indoor climbing industry along the Front Range.
“Ultimately, the sport is just growing so fast that it can support multiple gyms in this area,” Emerson said. “There is so much of a population down here and there is so little in terms of gyms.”