AVONDALE — Chicago soon will be getting a climbing-dedicated gym at the site of a former heating and air conditioning parts company in Avondale — one of two such exercise facilities that have targeted the city.
First Ascent Climbing & Fitness said that by the end of the year it would open a 26,000-square-foot climbing facility that includes exercise equipment, a pro shop and yoga classes at 3500 N. Spaulding Ave.
Ald. Rey Colon (35th) said he was delighted First Ascent would be coming to his ward, in a tucked-away industrial corner with limited options for development.
"I was very pleasantly surprised with the plans they presented," he said. "This is a unique thing for our neighborhood."
The 1.1-acre site was formerly home of ITT McDonnell & Miller, a company that manufactured parts for heating and air conditioning systems.
The building has been demolished, and First Ascent founder Jonathan Shepard said a new one would be built to be specifically tailored to climbing.
The gym's features will include 5,000 square feet of "stand-alone bouldering with caves, prows, top outs and overhangs" as well as fitness equipment, yoga studios locker rooms and a cafe.
Some walls will be as high as 55 feet with some bouldering walls that reach 15 feet.
The company expects to open in December, according to the First Ascent website, and Shepard said he was excited about the location.
"We love the location," he wrote in an email. "It's close to the 90/94, the Blue Line, and has great bike access (Elston) — and the neighborhood is surrounded by potential customers who we think would love rock climbing."
Colon said he, too, was looking forward to the opening, and even hinted at giving it a try himself.
"We're always looking for team-building stuff, so it might be a possibility for me and my staff," Colon said. "It's not something I've actually ever done before, so it'll be interesting."
Editor's note: This story contains corrected information about the construction of a new building to house First Ascent.