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New attraction coming to Cotton Avenue is first of its kind in Middle Georgia, co-owner says

Here’s what you need to know about new rock climbing gym coming to Macon

Co-owner Kevin Reaves talks about the opening of Macon Rocks climbing gym that Reaves and his business partner Bryan Nichols plan to open in downtown Macon in early 2020.
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Co-owner Kevin Reaves talks about the opening of Macon Rocks climbing gym that Reaves and his business partner Bryan Nichols plan to open in downtown Macon in early 2020.

A rock-climbing gym is set to open downtown early next year.

Macon Rocks Climbing Gym will open at 527 D.T. Walton Sr. Way, a long-vacant building in the Cotton Avenue district that has been threatened with demolition in recent years.

The 6,000-square-foot climbing gym will be the only one of its kind in Middle Georgia.

“We have plenty of good places downtown but not a lot of family-friendly stuff,” Brian Nichols said. “This will add to that. It will also start the revitalization on Cotton Avenue.”

Nichols and his business partner Kevin Reaves co-own the gym and Taste & See Coffee Shop and Gallery on Poplar Street.

Nichols said the idea came from his wife, LeAnn, who wanted to go rock climbing for the first time to celebrate her birthday years ago. Nichols took her to Atlanta Rocks.

“We started talking about different things with buildings and she said, ‘You and Kevin ought to do a rock-climbing gym,’” Nichols recalled. “I said, ‘That’s ridiculous. There’s no way.’”

Later, on a double date at Downtown Grill with Reaves and his wife, Nichols said LeAnn brought up the idea again.

“She said something about it and (Kevin) goes, ‘That’s a great idea!’” Nichols said with a chuckle.

Nichols and Reaves began researching to see if there was a market in Macon for a climbing gym.

The pair visited gyms across the country and attended a rock-climbing summit for gym owners in Colorado.

“Something that we wanted to make sure wasn’t just ‘is Macon ready for it?,’ but where is the industry going,” Nichols said.

In January, ESPN began televising climbing competitions after it entered into a contract with USA Climbing.

What’s more, the sport will debut in the Olympics in Tokyo next year.

There’s more to rock climbing than reaching the top and hitting a button.

“You’re climbing particular routes based off of your level,” Nichols said, adding that the polyurethane climbing holds would be changed frequently to provide new challenges.

Macon Rocks Climbing Gym will be open to people of all ages and experience levels.

“We’re going to have auto belays for beginners. We’re going to have top rope and lead routes … and bouldering,” Reaves said. “It’s going to be a little bit of everything.”

The gym also will have a birthday room available for rent and an equipment and merchandise shop. It will be open daily but hours and prices have yet to be determined, Reaves said.

Original plans for the gym have already been approved, but public reception so far indicates such great interest that Nichols and Reaves decided to go back to the drawing board to design a bigger space.

“I didn’t realize we have a huge rock climbing community here already,” Nichols said.

Nichols did not say how much he and his partner are investing in the gym. “But it’s a lot,” he told the Telegraph.

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