LIC Climbing Gym The Cliffs Reopens After Safety Concerns

By Jeanmarie Evelly on March 28, 2014 4:51pm 

 The Cliffs LIC reopened this week after being closed by the city in October.
The Cliffs LIC reopened this week after being closed by the city in October.
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DNAinfo/Jeanmarie Evelly

LONG ISLAND CITY — A Queens rock climbing gym that was shuttered by the Department of Buildings shortly after its debut this past fall is open for business once again.

The Cliffs at LIC reopened this week, five months after the city issued a partial vacate order for the facility, at 11-11 44th Dr., just weeks after its grand opening. It wasn't the first setback for the highly anticipated gym, whose owner is facing on ongoing bribery investigation.

Memberships weren't charged during gym's five-month hiatus and the introductory price of $95 a month will be extended, according to the owner, Mike Wolfert.

Wolfert also said The Cliffs is planning to launch after school and summer camp programs as well as a climbing program for low-income children.

The DOB issued a partial vacate order at the site in October for not having a valid certificate of occupancy city records show.

Inspectors also cited safety concerns over the climbing walls and assessed the company a $1,200 fine for operating contrary to its certificte of occupancy, according to city records. The fine was paid.

Wolfert says the closure was due to missing paperwork and that he mistakenly failed to file a form that included a sign-off from an engineer attesting to the structural integrity of the climbing walls, which he says have always been sound.

"There was nothing wrong with the walls, they're the same walls — I didn’t have to change them in any way," he said. "The walls were always built to code."

Wolfert said the facility has undergone an extensive audit by the DOB, which lifted the vacate order on Wednesday, records show.

The Cliffs at LIC — Wolfert's second location — had been highly-anticipated by climbing fans, promising 30,000 square feet of climbing space that can fit as many as 500 climbers at once.

Its original opening was delayed after Wolfert was accused of bribing an undercover city investigator who was posing as a DOB inspector in an attempt to have a stop work order lifted. Wolfert declined to comment on the allegations, citing an ongoing case. His attorney maintained his client's innocence to DNAinfo New York last year.

Wolfert said customers have been supportive in spite of the facility's delayed opening, calling the local climbing community "a special kind of community."

"I was overwhelmed by how supportive people were during all of this," he said. "We did have some cancelations, but not as many as we had expected."

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