Troubled LIC Rock Climbing Gym Shuttered by Buildings Department

By Jeanmarie Evelly on November 15, 2013 9:59am | Updated on November 15, 2013 10:38am

 The Cliffs LIC at 11-11 44th Dr. in Long Island City
The Cliffs LIC at 11-11 44th Dr. in Long Island City
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

LONG ISLAND CITY — It's been a rocky road for the Cliffs.

The massive rock climbing gym, which opened its doors in Queens in early October, has been shut down for having "dangerous" conditions — the latest setback for the much-anticipated space.

The Cliffs LIC, an indoor climbing and fitness center at 11-11 44th Dr. in Long Island City, was issued a partial vacate order on Oct. 25 for not having a valid certificate of occupancy, according to the DOB.

According to city records, the rock climbing walls and apparatuses were shut down because they were considered dangerous, city records show.

The 30,000-square foot gym had been open for only a few weeks, having debuted Oct. 5 with a grand opening party that drew packs of excited climbers to the former warehouse space.

The shutdown was the most recent setback for the gym, which was set to be one of the largest indoor rock climbing facilities in the country.

Owner Mike Wolfert is facing bribery charges for allegedly giving cash to an undercover city investigator who was posing as a DOB inspector in an attempt to have a stop work order lifted.

But he maintained his innocence through his lawyer earlier this year.

Wolfert said he is working to re-open, and has submitted revised construction plans to the DOB. He will also be getting the climbing walls inspected by a third party structural engineer, at the request of the DOB.

"The walls and the structure is built to code, it's just a matter of getting the proper paperwork that the Department of Buildings is requiring," said Wolfert.

The climbing walls had been approved previously by a New York State licensed engineer, an engineer from the manufacturer and a certified testing company, he added.

The initial inspection of the building on Oct. 25 came after an anonymous tipster said The Cliffs was operating without a required special permit, Wolfert said. The gym had been granted that permit by the Board of Standards and Appeals in June, city records show.

Wolfert said he doesn't have a definite timeline for when the gym will re-open, but is hoping for early December.

Members are not being charged while the gym is closed, he said, and will receive additional time on their memberships once the site reopens, as well as free guest passes and classes.

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