Climb Bentonville breaks ground Thursday, proximity to Walton-led public park noted as a plus

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 13,340 views 

The developers of a new indoor climbing, fitness and yoga facility in Bentonville say they are thrilled about their building’s proximity to a planned 70-acre public park backed by the Walton Family Foundation.

Climb Bentonville will break ground Thursday (Nov. 9) at 10 a.m. on a 22,000-square-foot facility near the corner of Arkansas Highway 102 and Southwest I Street in Bentonville.

The venue will be a branch of Tennessee-based Climb Nashville, which is partnering with Fayetteville businessman Dennis Nelms to build the two-story facility. Climb Bentonville should open in fall 2018. Climb Nashville was founded 15 years ago by Drew Sloss and Lance Brock and has two locations in the city.

Climb Bentonville will be built on a 72-acre tract at the southeast corner of Highway 102 and Southwest I Street. The land is owned by an LLC controlled by the Walton Family Foundation, and the majority of the property is being planned for development into a nature preserve project called Osage Prairie Park.

The design plan has been presented to the Bentonville Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and was discussed in March. It includes removing the dam to nearby Lake Bentonville, a 20-acre park that’s a half-mile south of Highway 102. That will create a natural wetland, connecting Osage Prairie Park and the lake to the adjacent Bentonville Municipal Airport.

The playground at Lake Bentonville will also be replaced as part of a new design plan for the property, according to the city. In addition, fishing will remain, water will improve via watershed, a dock will be installed for kayaks, trails will be added, native natural grass will be planted and a small music venue and new parking lot will also be built.

“Lake Bentonville, essentially, is going to get a big facelift, at no cost to taxpayers,” said David Wright, director of the city’s parks and recreation department, which oversees Lake Bentonville. He said Osage Prairie Park will be a privately owned public park, similar to the setup of Compton Gardens and the Crystal Bridges Trail in downtown Bentonville. The new public park will join with Lake Bentonville using a boardwalk.

Budget for the new park is $1.1 million.

“As far as the public is concerned, they can use [Osage Prairie Park] just as they use any of our other public parks,” Wright said. “This will just be privately owned. At least initially.”

Wright said construction on the new park wouldn’t likely begin until the middle of or late 2018, followed by an 18-month construction timeline.

The Climb Bentonville principals are already touting the proximity to Osage Prairie Park as a key attribute of their development.

“While we looked at multiple sites, we’re happy to have landed in Bentonville, adjacent to Osage Prairie Park, and at such a visible intersection,” Brock said. “We’re excited to be opening a new climbing space in such an enthusiastically active community.”

The Climb Bentonville developers originally announced plans for the venue in February 2016. They had announced construction of Climb Fayetteville at 1475 W. Drake St. near Interstate 49. Nelms bought the 2.88-acre site in 2014 for $500,000.

Nelms said he still owns the Drake Street property, and hopes to develop the site one day for a second indoor climbing facility.

“We felt like we had a better shot of making this [Bentonville] location work,” Nelms said. “My partners have two gyms in Nashville and they are targeted toward different demographics. In Bentonville, we’ll focus on offerings for a younger demographic and a family demographic, and in Fayetteville we’d focus on the college demographic.

“Northwest Arkansas is a pretty complex market, and this is the kind of thing you don’t want to get wrong,” he added. “I just felt like we would be better served to start [in Bentonville] and see how it goes and then plan for a second facility elsewhere.”

The design-build team for the Bentonville facility includes architects Audy Lack, Matt Hoffman and Shay Hawkins of Miller, Boskus, Lack Architects in Fayetteville; Scott Archer, Jeremy Calloway and Rob May of HSA Consultants in Fort Smith; Heath Rheay and Mark Dillard of Kinco Construction in Springdale; and Brahm Driver and Alison Jumper with Ecological Design Group in Rogers.

The actual climbing wall will be built by Walltopia, a global climbing wall manufacturer headquartered in Bulgaria. The facility will boast more than 16,000 square feet of climbing terrain and will feature walls measuring as high as 45 feet. The building’s two-story interior will include a workout room, yoga/fitness class space, restrooms, locker area, retail store, and kids’ climbing area. There will also be a party room for birthday parties and private events.

Memberships will include access to indoor climbing and all gym amenities, such as training equipment and group fitness classes. Day passes will also be available. Gym staff will include personal trainers for one-on-one and small group coaching. Special programs such as youth camps, after-school programs, personal climbing instruction and outdoor guiding will be available.

Private events, such as corporate team-building and kids’ birthday parties will be among the gym’s unique offerings.