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The Cliffs at LIC finally reopens, as owner’s battle with Buildings Dept. looks over

Mike Wolfert

Mike Wolfert

March 26, 2014 By Christian Murray

He’s on the top of the world.

The owner of the Cliffs at LIC, a gigantic indoor rock-climbing center located on 44th Drive, reopened today after being shut down by the Building Dept. in October for not having a valid Certificate of Occupancy.

“I feel the world has come off my shoulders,” said Mike Wolfert, the owner of the Cliffs. “They put us through an intensive audit.”

The Cliffs had its grand opening last October, but was shut down just three weeks later. Therefore, Wolfert said, when he reopened today it felt like a grand opening once again– especially after the climbers began to scale the walls.

The Cliffs, located at 11-11 44th Drive, features more than 30,000 square feet of climbing space—including walls that tower up to 60-feet high. The center also has a gym, which is fully equipped with strength-training equipment and cardiovascular machines.

Wolfert said he will start offering fitness and climbing programs in about two weeks—such as after-school programs, fitness camps and climbing classes.

He is also about to launch an after-school program for at-risk youth called “Climb Up.” The program will be free of charge to those children who qualify.

Wolfert said that he is planning on holding a re-opening celebration in about two weeks, although it won’t be quite as lavish as his grand opening when 1,000 people attended.

However, the past year has certainly been no party for Wolfert.

He had planned to open in May but complications with the building department—including his arrest for allegedly bribing a building inspector– delayed the opening.

However, when he did open in October an anonymous complaint was filed that alleged the Cliffs had violated city zoning laws. While that complaint was unfounded and dismissed, it led to a building inspector coming to the facility and reporting that he did not have a valid Certificate of Occupancy.

All of the delays—from May through March—have cost Wolfert about $500,000, he said.

Wolfert said he was able to retain his full time employees during the period—despite the loss in revenue. However, the delays did lead to some members canceling– even though they were not charged for the months the facility was closed. However, he said that was a small minority.

“It was pretty amazing the support I got from the climbing community,” he said. “They really reached out to me.”

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14 Comments

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LIC_Climber

I’m an LIC resident and became a full time member before The Cliffs had its initial opening in October. While the 5 months of closure was frustrating, I feel that I’ve been made whole and then some from the re-opening. The Cliffs made sure to repay loyal members who waited out the delays with some added perks and a great member appreciation party. The facility is top notch, the staff is super helpful and it’s been great getting back on the walls. Bravo to Bill, Mike and the team. Keep up the good work.

Reply
Bill

The Occupancy was addressed prior to our opening. We are now allowed 737 occupancy per our Public Assembly Permit.
So come get your climb on!

Reply
NotOver Yet

The gym currently has a temporary CO which expires June 6. It specifies a maximum occupancy of 74 people. If the Dob wanted to continue their campaign, they could still find him in violation for sure during a party or unusually busy night.

Reply
Freeloaders

The department of buildings has got to be the biggest bunch of no nothing freeloading over paid idiots in the city.

Reply
Ro

Its undeniable that the Cliffs had a bumpy start but I hope it all works out. This a great amenity for the neighborhood and what gives me comfort is that the same people successfully run a similar facility in Valhalla, NY.

Reply
LIC Res

I am entirely comfortable with the DOB ‘bone picking’ over safety, given the owner’s pattern of behavior.

In any case, good luck to them. It could be a great addition to the neighborhood.

Reply
Anonymous

The Cliffs is going to be a great addition to the neighborhood. They took a vacant space in a building and saw the chance to make something special. It only makes LIC better and will bring more life to 44th Drive. I wish them luck.

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@HowLame

Are you serious HowLame? It’s obvious you have a personal vendetta against The Cliffs, or maybe just climbing in general.

For starters, indoor climbing isn’t just for kids, but anyone who wants to hone their skills when weather isn’t permitting, or anyone that just wants a good workout. You won’t learn how to climb a 5.10 or higher by climbing ladders and trees.

Second, that’s good advice to recommend that parents allow their fearless kids to climb unsupervised and unsafely. Sure we’ve all done it, but no need to fuel the risk. Do it safely or risk your child dying or getting brain damage, yeah we almost lost my cousin because he decided to climb up a tree and fell.
——-
And LIC Res, regardless what the owner tried to do, I think the the DOB was nit picking because they had a bone to pick. EVERY building can be failed for something (guaranteed your building as well), it’s an endless game if an inspector has an ulterior motive.

I hope I didn’t just feed two trolls. Good luck to the Cliffs.

Reply
How Lame

The best climbing experience is staring at your kids right in the face — the gantries. Or a tree. Even a cyclone fence or frigging fire escape.

What a bunch of little pansies being raised today. Their parents spend money on a membership for their kids to CLIMB, something any creative ballsy kid can do anywhere for free.

And they pay to do it while tethered to a stupid wall. INSIDE a building for god’s sake. With their ever-present parents cheering them on: “Good job!!!”

YUCK. I really don’t get it.

Reply
LIC Res

It is difficult to get re-excited. This establishment closed due to multiple serious building code violations. Wolfert, once arrested on bribery charges, offered nothing but repeated false promises when asked about a reopen date. There has been zero effort to make-whole the people who have had membership money tied up for a half year.

Why should we expect a sudden change in this steady stream of irresponsible, careless and illegal behavior? I’ll keep my distance.

Reply
i want to try the cliffs

This place looks amazing and i can’t wait to try it. We have been looking in every time we drive by. I plan to bring my daughter, kids love to climb.

Reply

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