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By Kevin Boneske
Personal editor

ASHWAUBENON — A site plan to include a climbing gym as part of a planned five-story building along Mike McCarthy Way was approved Tuesday, April 27, by village council.

Community Development Manager Aaron Schuette said Merge Urban Development previously received approval from the village council in January to build a mixed-use structure on the north side of Mike McCarthy Way between Holmgren Way and South Ashland Avenue.

Schuette said the climbing gym addition will be attached to the east of the building and operated by Odyssey Climbing Company, which will have indoor climbing walls and a bouldering gym as amenity for the building’s residents as well as the public.

“On the north side of the building there will be the main entrance (for the climbing hall) as well as a glass curtain wall,” he said. “To break up the mass (of the gymnasium wall) along Mike McCarthy Way, six Princeton Sentry Ginkgo biloba trees will be planted.”

Schuette said two small climbing hills will be added to the public patio in front of the building to help market the property.

He said the site plan review committee and the village plan commission had previously recommended the site plan for approval.

Ben Ganther of Odyssey Climbing told the commission on April 8 that his company would sell memberships for the climbing gym.

“There are also daytime uses,” he said. “People can come in and climb for the day or a few hours. We have a small equipment store that is also part of it. It is a separate commercial entity from the overall development, but it obviously serves as an attraction and amenity for the residents of the building as well.

Ganther said Odyssey Climbing, which will occupy just under 12,000 square feet in the building, expects to attract about 1,700 members for the climbing gym.

“It will take us a few years to reach this level,” he said. “Now it won’t be the number of people in there at one time, but it’s probably designed to hold around 250 people at (maximum) capacity, more or less.”

Because the property is located in the from the village A sports and entertainment zoning district, the site plan required final approval from the village council.

Merge plans to construct the five-story mixed-use building with 3,100 square feet of retail space on the first floor, 88 multi-family residential units on the second through fifth floors, and the climbing gym on the east side of the building.

Schuette said the building with the climbing gym is the first phase of Merge’s development, which could include additional structures in the area.