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Site plan recommended for climbing gym in Ashwaubenon

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

ASHWAUBENON – A site plan for a climbing gym attached to a five-story building planned along Mike McCarthy Way was recommended Thursday, April 8, by the village’s Site Plan Review Committee and Plan Commission.

Community Development Director Aaron Schuette said Merge Urban Development previously received village board approval in January to construct a mixed-use structure on the north side of Mike McCarthy Way between Holmgren Way and South Ashland Avenue.

However, Schuette said at that time Merge didn’t have plans ready for the climbing gym, which will be attached on the east of the building and called the Odyssey Climbing Gym with four-story climbing walls and boulder walls.

“It’s a pretty exciting project,” he said. “This is something that will be a draw, not just for the Ashwaubenon or Greater Green Bay area. This is really a Northeastern Wisconsin draw, and I’d say even beyond that to a degree.”

Merge is planning to construct the five-story, mixed-use building with 3,100 square feet of commercial space on the first floor, 88 multi-family residential units on the second through fifth floors and the climbing gym attached on the east of the building.

Schuette said the L-shaped building will have a patio area in front with small hills.

“They’re going to put (the hills) into the patio there to help do a little bit of advertising, but also provide a unique interest to that patio plaza area,” he said.

Schuette said the building with the climbing gym is the first phase in Merge’s development, which could include additional structures in the area.

Dan Drendel of Slingshot Architecture said the climbing gym will be a fitness amenity for the building’s tenants as well as being open to the public.

“From a Merge standpoint, they’re really excited to have Odyssey as a tenant,” he said. “Odyssey’s vision is about bringing people together (to) experience and enjoy rock climbing and climbing gyms.”

Ben Ganther of Odyssey Climbing said his company will sell memberships.

“There’s also day uses,” he said. “People can come in and just climb for the day or a few hours. We’ve got a small gear shop that’s a part of it as well. It is a separate business entity from the overall development, but it serves, obviously, as a draw and an amenity for the residents within the building as well.”

Ganther said Odyssey Climbing, which will occupy slightly less than 12,000 square feet within the building, is projecting to attract about 1,700 members for the climbing gym.

“It will take a few years for us to get to that level,” he said. “Now, that won’t be the amount of people that are in there at one time, but it’s probably designed to hold 250 or so people at (maximum) capacity, give or take.”

Because the property is located in the village’s Sports and Entertainment zoning district, the site plan requires final approval by the village board, which will consider it April 27.

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