By Kevin Collison
Graham Hess has seen how light rail galvanized Salt Lake City’s downtown, and when Kansas City started its streetcar, he knew downtown was the place to pursue his business dream.
He and his wife, Dara, are planning to open Sequence Climbing, a “bouldering gym” and cutting-edge fitness center in a West Crossroads building at 1710 Washington this November.
“I’m a Utah transplant, my wife and I just closed on a downtown condo,” Hess said. “I come from a marketing background and I’ve climbed for 22 years. I wanted to merge my passion with my career.
“I’ve always like the Crossroads Arts District, but what flagged it for me was the streetcar. Coming from a light-rail city in Salt Lake City, I watched that process.
“Everybody was upset at first, but fast forward 10- 15 years and there are 67,000 riders daily. And I’ve witnessed the economic activity that came with it.”
The 20,000 square-foot building where Sequence Climbing will be located has a barrel roof and provides a great space for bouldering, a climbing method done without ropes or harness.
Bouldering is a style of rock climbing that isolates only the movement, Hess said. The climbing routes or “problems” require the climber to unlock the “sequence” of moves necessary to achieve the top.
This is where Sequence Climbing derives its name.
“Our Bouldering walls average 16 feet high and can overhang as much as 65-70 degrees, which coupled with lateral movement, enable routes as long as 35-plus feet. For safety, 16 inches of custom padded flooring line the fall zones,” explained Hess.
“Bouldering is social,” he added. “Each route is unique and collaboration is often required to solve the tricky problems. While attempting to climb a route you will be sharing ideas or ‘beta’ with other climbers and cheering each other to the top.”
The only equipment required are rock-climbing shoes and some chalk. The facility also will include a multi-purpose training room that will include yoga and fitness classes.
Hess said the target demographic is millennials, a population that he only sees as growing as downtown continues to develop.
“I have a feeling that with all the development occurring beside on my Salt Lake experience, 50-plus percent of the millennials will be living downtown within the next three years.
“My wife and I wanted to come to the an area where we can add value. Also, downtown is in a period of redevelopment that provides real estate opportunities you might not see in other cities.”
When fully operational, Hess expects Sequence Climbing will 25- to 30 employees. He’s currently applying for job-creating incentives from the Missouri Works program.
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