Plant to Play
A new climbing gym has opened at 520 20th St. in downtown Oakland, turning an old power plant into a new place for nearby residents to play, climb, work out and socialize without having to get in a car and drive somewhere.
On the outside, the Great Western Power Company gym preserves the classic 1924 architecture with its stone arch and 150-foot stack. Inside, it has 11,000 square feet of climbing terrain, with cool geometric features of the walls highlighted in a variety of colors.
For an area seeing a lot of new condos, shops and restaurants, the gym adds to the character of the neighborhood and helps the community. Already several nearby schools have brought kids to climb at Great Western on a weekly basis. Many of them had never had the opportunity to see rock climbing before. Great Western also quickly became a magnet for parties and corporate events.
“The structure is perfect for our use,” says general manager Lyn Verinsky. “It has a great, industrial feel.”
One Oakland resident who comes to Great Western Power Company is novelist Leonard Chang.
“I live less than a mile away, within walking distance. It’s really nice to have this new gym open up right near me,” he said. “What’s nice about the gym is I meet a whole bunch of people from all walks of life outside my usual profession, the writers and critics, and I’ve met a nice community of climbing friends.”
He appreciates the fact that the gym is open late.
“One of the problems downtown is that there is a lot going on during the day, but at night and on the weekends to some extent it’s harder to attract people down there,” he said. “So this sort of thing, revitalizing older buildings, it’s more than just commercialization of downtown Oakland.”
for classes, hours, directions, and other gym information.
To see the inside during the wall construction phase, go to the photo album posted at http://touchstoneclimbing.com/gallery/v/gyms/gwpc/This is a summary of the press release announcing the opening of the Great Western Power Company. A copy of the full release can be downloaded here.
Labels: event, Great Western Power Co., oakland