Walker House at 540 Broad St. in Newark — Courtesy: L+M Development Partners
By Joshua Burd
Newark’s first rock climbing gym is set to open early next year, bringing a new amenity to the city and to a historic tower that is now home to more than 260 apartments.
A development team including L+M Development Partners, Prudential Financial and Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group on Thursday offered new details about the operator, Method Climbing, which will occupy 22,000 square feet at 540 Broad St. The facility will open on the ground floor of the former New Jersey Bell building, now known as Walker House, where the investment group recently debuted a mix of residential, retail and office space after restoring the property.
Jake Frantzman of RIPCO Real Estate represented Method Climbing.
“We are excited to bring rock climbing to Newark, especially during a time when the city is going through such significant change,” said James Chi, co-owner of Method Climbing. “Each new development brings a new element that helps reshape the city’s identity and sense of community. Rock climbing is not only a fun and challenging sport, but it’s also a social experience with a strong community component. We hope that Method can be a place that brings Newark together and be a small part of the city’s new identity.”
In a news release, the developers said the new facility will be one of the largest of its kind in New Jersey. The gym will contain 12,000 square feet of climbing terrain, including nearly 8,000 square feet of bouldering terrain with 15-foot-high walls and more than 4,000 square feet of roping terrain with 27-foot-high walls.
Method Climbing will seek to be both a high-end fitness experience and an opportunity for networking and socializing, the news release said. The facility will offer adult and youth climbing programs such as classes, clubs, camps and group events, along with modern weight training and cardiovascular equipment and group fitness classes such as yoga and boot camps.
The Chi family will operate Method Climbing alongside Obe Carrion, a legendary rock climber and coach with design and operations experience for several rock-climbing facilities, the developers said. The gym’s retail store will sell rock climbing shoes, clothes and equipment, while a café on the ground floor will serve coffee, cold drinks and food.
“Method Climbing will be the first of its kind in Newark and a fantastic amenity for Walker House’s residents and workers, along with visitors from around the region,” said Jake Pine, director at L+M Development Partners. “Walker House is quickly becoming an attractive destination and we’re looking forward to announcing more exciting tenants in the coming months as our apartment lease up continues.”
The development team joined city officials earlier this month to unveil Walker House, which has given now life to the landmarked 21-story office building. Designed in the 1920s by famed architect Ralph Thomas Walker, the building now features 264 units of mixed-income housing and will also contain a brewery and a UPS Store on its ground floor.
In April, Walker House also welcomed Per Scholas, the nationally renowned tech training nonprofit, to its office space. The full restoration of the building includes the renovation of its soaring lobby and brick-and-sandstone exterior, both of which are on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.