Sept. 12, 2013 By Christian Murray
The largest indoor rock climbing venue in the US is expected to open in Long Island City in less than three weeks.
Mike Wolfert, the owner of The Cliffs of LIC, said that about 30 contractors are in the midst of completing his 30,000 sqf recreation center that will offer rock climbing, a gymnasium and an apparel store.
Wolfert took on the massive task of converting a former warehouse located at 11-11 44th Drive into the facility at the beginning of the year. The venue will feature walls that tower up to 60-feet high.
However, the construction process has not been an easy one.
Wolfert, who had planned to open in May, was slapped with a stop-work order in April that brought construction to a halt for nearly five months. He was unable to restart construction until Sept. 4.
Wolfert said that between rent, debt servicing, staff costs and lawyers fees the stop-work order cost him as much as $500,000.
Wolfert, however, said the stop work order was issued because of a misunderstanding. He said that he filed an application to make alterations to the warehouse that was approved by the buildings department. At the same time, he sought a zoning change that would allow him to build a sports/recreation facility.
When a building inspector arrived on the premises he determined that the alterations to the warehouse were for the purposes of creating a sports facility—which Wolfert had yet to receive the zoning for– and issued a stop work order.
It was at that point that Wolfert got into a tangle with the authorities for allegedly bribing the official. He was arrested in May and the case is still going through the courts.
Wolfert said the stop work order had nothing to do with how the facility was being constructed and he is glad the construction issue has been resolved.
Wolfert said he wants to focus on the good news.
“We are just weeks way from opening one of the best gyms in the United States,” he said.
The Cliffs will be so large that 500 climbers will be able to scale the walls at the same time.
The center will include a gym that offers full-fitness cardio and free weights, as well as a retail store that sells climbing gear.
Wolfert said the club is currently selling annual memberships for $1045, which come with a monthly guest pass, gym access and climbing classes.
He said he is looking to introduce programs for children – with scholarships for children from low income families.
Starting October, the club will be available for birthday parties, bar mitzvahs and other events.