Mac Writt

Zoning Committee Approves Adventure Rock Complex

Apartment complex and climbing gym would bring an “urban theater” to North Avenue.

By - May 29th, 2014 03:27 pm
Rivercrest Phase II Rendering

Rivercrest Phase II Rendering

What has 46 residential units, lots of parking spots and an indoor climbing facility that personifies the idea of an “urban theater”? That would be the Adventure Rock complex, technically known as Rivercrest Phase II, which its developers want to build at 2240 N. Commerce St. and 1300 E. Garfield Ave. just south of North Ave. The city’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee liked the idea enough to give it thumbs up today, meaning the project now moves onto the final stage of its adventure in city politics, seeking approval of the full Common Council.

A longstanding Pewaukee business, Adventure Rock seeks to expand in Milwaukee because its current business (serving climbers and climbing-themed birthday parties) is bursting at the seams and many of its customers come from city neighborhoods like the East Side and Riverwest areas.

The plan for the new facility, which was tweaked to accommodate additional residential and green spaces, will be a four-story building with 46 apartment units, the indoor rock climbing facility and 65 indoor parking spaces for residential and commercial use. It would be built in an unoccupied lot adjacent to a Pick n’ Save grocery store, which developers chose for its proximity to the North Ave business district and UW-Milwaukee dormitories.

“Adventure Rock has been the only complete climbing gymnasium in Milwaukee for several years. It is one of the fastest growing urban eco-sports today,” explained Robert Monnat, chief operating officer of Mandel Group, a Milwaukee-based real estate firm that is helping develop the project.

The building’s design is by locally and nationally acclaimed architectural firm Johnsen Schmaling Architects. It is a continuous building wrapped in steel which situates the rock climbing facility facing directly towards North Ave. It will allow passersby to look into the new facility’s large exterior windows, showcasing the rock walls and climbers inside.

“We created what is known as urban theater; rock climbing is visible through the windows — you can literally see guys and gals climbing up and down the space.” said Monnat. In regards to environmental advocacy groups questioning the  impact of having a pathway leading from Adventure Rock to the Beerline Trail directly below it, Monnat said his company could build the path — or not — at the discretion of the committee.

The meeting heard voices from many patrons of Adventure Rock and nearby residents. Denis Krasinki, a retired firefighter and grandfather of three young climbers, loved the convenience of having a rock climbing facility close to home. “Not having to drive all the way to Brookfield is a huge benefit to me,” he said. “I see this as a big asset to the city of Milwaukee.”

Katie Felten, a recent devote of climbing and East Side resident for eight years, was also happy to see a climbing wall being constructed within bike and walking distance from her home. Felton also noted that Adventure Rock would be a great benefit for inner city residents and students close to the new building.

Craig Burzynski, Adventure Rock manager, followed up on that thought. “We currently have three mobile (climbing) walls that go to countless school events,” he noted. “We have also reached out to the Urban Ecology Center to work together, the River Revitalization Foundation, and are open to helping the Milwaukee River Advocates Cooperation to help with river cleanups. The climbing community is very ecologically minded.”

Alderman Willie Wade noted that the facility was indeed good for the community and for students at Milwaukee Public Schools, which has recently cut funding for sports programs. “For my community we gear kids to join football, basketball, and baseball. We need facilities like this to introduce sports like tennis and rowing. This is similar to golf but a lot less expensive and a great asset to Milwaukee,” Wade said.

Adventure Rock and Mandel Group must now seek council approval and Mayor Tom Barrett’s signature to proceed with construction. Observers don’t expect any major obstacles to these approvals.

Renderings and Plans

Categories: Real Estate

2 thoughts on “Zoning Committee Approves Adventure Rock Complex”

  1. Claire Kollmeyer says:

    Please note that there is a nonprofit rock climbing gym in downtown Milwaukee, located in the basement of the historical Turner Hall. It is a beautiful facility that has been updated tremendously in the past year. If you are looking for a place to climb in downtown Milwaukee before the Adventure Rock is complete, stop in to Turners! Robert Monnat is not correct in saying “Adventure Rock has been the only complete climbing gymnasium in Milwaukee for several years.” Adventure Rock is not in the city of Milwaukee, and Turners IS a complete climbing gymnasium.

  2. Mike Sorenson says:

    I am excited about Adventure Rock’s addition to the climbing community in Milwaukee. In addition to Claire’s notes above, I would like to add to correction of the article, which fails to mention a complete and full service climbing gymnasium that is already located in Milwaukee. Milwaukee Turners Climbing Gym is the oldest and longest established climbing gym in Milwaukee and the state, and is the only gym that is not-for-profit. The focus is on the teaching of climbing and the encouragement of its patrons to take their skills outdoors. It has both a very knowledgeable and friendly staff as well as friendly and encouraging members. Turners is a great rock climber’s gym and holds its roots in its old school charm.
    I encourage those who are interested to visit either on Facebook (, website ( and at the facility in the lower level of The Historic Milwaukee Turners Building (1034 N 4th St, across from the BMO Harris Bradley Center).

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