After months of construction, The Rock Lounge, a rock climbing gym, plans to reopen in two weeks at a new location on east 30th Street in Durango.
The new training space will fill a void that was left when it was forced to leave its location at 1111 Camino del Rio to make way for a new hotel.
“This is not about a business, this is about a community center,” gym owner Marcus Garcia said.
The gym is moving into a building formerly home to Treasures by Therese, an antique store. The shop at 111 E. 30th St. had an unfinished feel to the interior, which will be somewhat maintained.
“The idea is to keep that garage feel,” Garcia said. The building has gone through a major transformation inside and outside, but the interior will be reminiscent of earlier days of rock climbing when many people trained at home, he said.
Garcia planned to open the new gym last summer, but the construction timeline was set back by city requirements to upgrade the exterior of the building, he said.
Garcia’s longtime friends, Jean and Andy Gresh, bought the building as an investment and oversaw the exterior construction. The couple started talking with the city in April and received a building permit in mid-October, Jean Gresh said.
“The continual changing of the required improvements caused the delay,” she said.
The couple put in paved parking, drainage, an accessible 8-foot sidewalk and a new corrugated metal wall requested by a neighbor to prevent light pollution.
The couple was not required to do anything that is not typically required by the city’s review process, Planning Manager Scott Shine said.
“The process and requirements were clearly communicated to the property owners and business owner,” he said.
During the interim closure, climbers trained outside during the mild winter and at Crossfit Catacombs, a gym on Main Avenue, Garcia said.
Garcia also trained the eight members of Durango’s U.S.A. Youth Ice Climbing Team at his house and on a temporary climbing wall ahead of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation’s Ice Climbing World Cup Championship in Lichtenstein.
The team placed fourth at the championships, which reflected its commitment to training, despite the circumstances, Garcia said.
“The kids are just so determined and focused,” he said.
Garcia oversaw most of the interior improvements, which started in November. The remodeled 5,500-square-foot building will have about 2,200 square feet of climbing space, dedicated mostly for bouldering, or climbing without ropes. It will also have a space dedicated to training ice climbers.
In addition to gym facilities, the building will have two small offices for rent.
Once reopened, Garcia expects the gym will serve the public, as well as Animas High School, Mountain Middle School and Timberline Academy students, as it did previously.
A second phase of construction will include a classroom area and space for climbers to practice with ropes. The gym is raising money for the next phase of construction on the crowd-funding site GoFundMe, and Garcia expects to do more fundraising at the gym’s grand opening.
The Rock Lounge expects to open to the public Feb. 23, and a grand opening will be held on March 24.