East Memphis commuters may be treated to some eye candy — up to 10 climbers at a time scaling a 40-foot-tall, outdoor climbing wall — if plans for a large climbing gym are approved.
Chattanooga-based High Point Climbing proposes to build a $9 million, 32,000-square-foot climbing and fitness facility at a high-profile intersection just west of Shelby Farms Park.
“The Memphis project will be cool,” said company principal Johnny O’Brien of Chattanooga, where passersby often stop and watch climbers at two High Point facilities. High Point’s third climbing gym opened early this year in Birmingham.
High Point plans a two-story gym on 2.7 acres at the northwest corner of Walnut Grove and Humphreys Boulevard. The site is now a parking lot immediately east of the Christian Brothers High School baseball field.
“We’re an indoor rock climbing gym with an outdoor component,” O’Brien said. “We wanted to be close to Shelby Farms” with its biking and running trails, kayaking and other activities. “We think it’s a real complement.”
High Point Memphis LLC filed an application with the Land Use Control Board to amend the Humphreys Center Planned Development to allow a sports facility there.
The board is to consider the request at its meeting on Sept. 14 at 10 a.m. in City Hall.
High Point Climbing is coming to Memphis for two main reasons: O’Brien’s son-in-law and business partner, John Wiygul, grew up in Memphis and Germantown; and the Memphis market is ripe for a climbing gym.
“Memphis has been in the sights of many (climbing) gym developers as a key city to be able to develop a new gym,” O’Brien said Tuesday. “Probably one of the top 10 cities in the U.S. That’s a result of the overall demographics and the fact there were no climbing gyms in the…