Here’s a fun idea discovered by guest writer Greg Manter on a trip he made this summer to Chattanooga. It’s always instructive to travel to other cities and to look closely through a Knoxville prism at what they are doing differently. While we don’t need to be like every other city, that doesn’t mean they are doing some cool things we could steal. Maybe this is one of those. Here’s Greg:
We visited Chattanooga yesterday and noticed the High Point Climbing and Fitness Center. It’s hard not to notice because it features large climbing walls on the outside of a parking garage, transforming the garage into a fun destination instead of a blank eyesore (I think the translucent climbing walls look great). Could something similar be attracted for the outside of the new garage under construction in downtown Knoxville?
The business in Chattanooga seems to be profitable because they are expanding into more of the first floor of the garage building. Their outdoor climbing walls start on platforms above the sidewalk, but that’s to accommodate storefronts on the entire street level. Our new garage won’t have pesky storefronts to get in the way, so the climbing walls could start at street level, avoiding the cost of elevated platforms.
The business isn’t as labor intensive as I expected. They use auto-belays for safety and had no employees in the outdoor climbing area at all. There were quite a few kids and adults climbing indoors and out when we were there on a weekday. I bet they attract lots of kids birthday parties.
What do others think? Should Knoxville work with the developer of the new garage to attract a climbing wall business? Or for the outside of the Market Square garage if the new garage developer won’t participate? Maybe the downtown Y would be interested in running it if they could raise the construction cost through donations. High Point Climbing might even be interested in expanding to our fair city …