Last week, Union Craft Brewing announced that it would be expanding in 2018 with a new brewery, taproom, and adjoining makerspace in a 138,000-square-foot warehouse in Medfield off of I-83. And the first tenant to sign on to join the communal workspace certainly puts into perspective just how big the new digs really are.
Union Collective—the brewery’s adjacent marketplace allotted to house eight additional makers, nonprofits, and small businesses to produce and sell their goods on site—will be home to a new 20,000-square-foot Earth Treks climbing gym.
The local brand began as a mountaineering guide service and outdoor rock-climbing school in Columbia in 1990, and has since evolved to operate four gyms throughout the state and two in Colorado—one of which will debut in 2018.
“Climbing gyms barely existed back when we started,” says Earth Treks COO Chris Jenkins. “But over the years, the indoor climbing world has just grown and grown.”
When Earth Treks first partnered with Union co-founders Jon Zerivitz, Kevin Blodger, and Adam Benesch a few months back, Jenkins says that the collaboration seemed like a good fit because of the property’s high ceilings, ample parking, and easy-access off of I-83.
“It used to be you would go to landlords desperate to find spaces, and they didn’t really understand what climbing was and didn’t want to work with you,” Jenkins says. “Now we’re finding folks who have visions for spaces like Union has. The evolution of the industry is making these things possible.”
Though Earth Treks has become known for its all-ages climbing, rope walls, yoga classes, and personal training services at county facilities in Timonium, Columbia, and Rockville, the Hampden location will mark the gym’s first foray into Baltimore City.
The location will also be the first to focus entirely on bouldering—a sport where the climber moves up the wall without the support of ropes or harnesses. The gym will feature 10,000-square-feet of bouldering terrain, as well as its own yoga studio, functional fitness and cardio zones, training areas, and a retail pro-shop.
“Bouldering has become a sport in itself,” Jenkins says. “Each one of our gyms is custom-designed to fit the space, so it’s nice that people can go from Earth Treks to Earth Treks and feel like they’re getting a different experience.”
Construction on the project at 1700 W. 41st Street is expected to begin on July 1, with some tenants slated to move in late 2017 and brewing to begin spring 2018. Construction on the gym itself will begin this November.
Benesch says that the addition of Earth Treks furthers Union Collective’s mission of assembling local businesses to connect, collaborate, and share resources all under one roof.
“Our goal in developing Union Collective is to do our part to make our city a better place to live, work, and play in,” he said in a press release. “Not only will this facility foster community, which is also a part of our mission, it will offer something that doesn’t exist anywhere else in Baltimore City.”
Jenkins agrees that, above all, the partnership is ideal because the two companies share a community-driven philosophy.
“Hampden seems like it’s going to be a great home for us,” he says. “It’s going to make it much more of a destination and a community. Climbing gyms are already all about community. This will only strengthen it.”