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Atlanta’s first rock climbing gym closing due to significant rent hike

An established Atlanta rock climbing gym plans to close on New Year’s Eve because the rent for the warehouse was getting too expensive for the gym to remain in business. 

Atlanta Rocks Climbing Gym, the city’s first indoor gym of its kind, has been a mainstay of the local climbing community for decades. The first location was in Doraville from 1994 to 2008, with the current location, in a small industrial complex on Collier Road, opening in 1999.

Co-founder Greg Perry told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that next term’s rent would be going up “significantly,” and the owners couldn’t keep up with the cost. 

Perry believes rent is increasing because the northwest Atlanta location is developing “into a much nicer area” as new condo complexes are being built. 

Within a few miles of Atlanta Rocks sit new condo, apartment and mixed-use developments including Seven88 West Midtown near Terminal West, Broadstone Yards next to the popular Westside Provisions District; and The Interlock at the 14th Street and Howell Mill Road intersection.

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Atlanta Rocks has had a long run, and the company is grateful for that, Perry said.

“We don’t have hard feeling toward our landlord or anything,” he said. “Progress is progress.” 

In this April 1999 file photo, Atlanta Rocks general manager Greg Perry is seen climbing at the Doraville indoor rock climbing gym. (LOUIE FAVORITE/AJC staff)

Co-founder Peter Bloeme said the owners “would have loved to keep the gym open for another 25 years” if not for the financial increases due to growth in the area.  

“... in the end, the quickening pace of redevelopment of nearby commercial/industrial properties to higher uses, and the uncertainties and rising costs that come with such redevelopment, signaled to us that the time was right to retire from this market,” he said in a press release.

The venue has hosted public figures such as actor Woody Harrelson, former Mayor Bill Campbell, comedian Jeff Foxworthy and entertainer Usher, the news release said. It has been the set for TV shows including “Bad Girls Club,” “MTV Diaries with Ludacris,” “Property Brothers,” “Real Housewives of Atlanta” and “T.I. & Tiny.” 

Perry said the business has served as an incubator for other climbing businesses, such as Escalade Rock Climbing Kennesaw, Adrenaline Climbing in Suwanee and Stone Summit, which has three locations. He described the metro rock climbing community today as “very much thriving.”

“If these walls could talk, they would tell stories of celebration, of triumph over adversity, of new-found love, and of personal transformation,” Perry said of Atlanta Rocks in the release. “These walls would speak to the dedication and professionalism of our hard working, safety-conscious staff. They would speak fondly of our loyal customers for whom the gym has been a sanctuary from the stresses of life.”

The are no immediate plans to open another gym in the future, Perry said. 

The business, at 1019 Collier Road NW, will host a “Climb-On…Until We Meet Again” gala at 6 p.m. on Dec. 29 with music, food and climbing. It is also offering roll-back prices until it closes, with daily climbing rates of $12.50.

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The Martin Luther King Junior Recreation and Aquatic Center features a computer lab, a rock climbing wall, fitness rooms, a hot meals program, after school programs and an area to simply view the city.

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