By Bill Parry
Fans of one of the country’s fastest growing sports will soon have a second venue for indoor rock climbing in Long Island City. A company called Brooklyn Boulders will open a 25,000-square-foot facility in the Q41 Building, at 23-10 41st Ave. in the Dutch Kills section, called BKB Queensbridge.
The venue will feature a variety of premier climbing terrain, climbing classes, fitness programs and equipment, a dedicated weight room, spacious yoga studio, saunas, youth programs, and multiple event spaces for community use.
“We’re the only gym in this area of spectacular growth and with all of this space we want to serve the community,” Brooklyn Boulders Co-Founder Lance Pinn said. “We’re reaching out to every niche in the neighborhood from MeetUp groups to the LGBT community, from mountaineers to people with disabilities. We want to give everyone a big space that they can use as their own club, someplace to go when you don’t want to go out drinking.”
When the 30-year-old transplanted Californian wanted to add a fourth location to his growing chain, Pinn began looking at Long Island City in 2010.
“I was drawn to this neighborhood because Queens Plaza has the fifth most accessible subway hub with seven different subway lines,” Pinn said. “Then I started doing more research and I began seeing how many residential high-rises and hotels were being developed in Dutch Kills and Court Square. We bet big signing a 25-year lease and I can’t wait to see what this place is like 17 years from now. We’re all in.”
The boom in residential growth is what drew Mike Wolfert to convert a huge warehouse into The Cliffs at LIC in April 2014, another rock climbing facility at 11-11 44th Drive.
“We welcome our new neighbors,” Wolfert said. “I think the more people introduced to rock climbing is better for everyone.”
Indoor rock climbing has become an urban professional sports craze in recent years the way boxing was popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s, before fears of head injury caused memberships to decline. Brooklyn Boulders was at the cusp, opening its first venue in Gowanus, Brooklyn in 2009 followed by locations in Boston and Chicago.
“I think the two sports are similar in that rock climbing gives you the physical exercise as well as the mental challenge,” Pinn said. “It’s like the sweet science in terms of intellectual engagement.”
BKB Queensbridge will feature Active Collaborative Workspace built on the premise that physicality stimulates innovation and creativity.
“There will be free Wi-Fi for your laptops, stand-up desks and conference tables where you can work on a project,” Pinn said. “As soon as the writer’s block sets in, you can go for a climb, take a sauna and a shower and come back refreshed with a clear mind.”
The company chose to use Queensbridge as a tip of the hat to the neighborhood.
“Dutch Kills is a great name, but it doesn’t describe the geography,” Pinn said. “I mean everyone knows the Queensboro Bridge, Simon and Garfunkel even sang about it. But it’s also about the Queensbridge Houses just two blocks away – I’m a big Nas fan as well.”
The rap star from Queensbridge isn’t the only one Pinn praises.
“I loved 5Pointz and I’ve been talking to some of their artists about putting their art on some of the walls,” Pinn said about the graffiti mecca that was torn down. “Of course, it will have to be inside.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr