Columbia University signed Upper East Side rock-climbing gym Steep Rock Bouldering as the retail anchor to its $7 billion Manhattanville campus expansion in West Harlem.
Steep Rock will take roughly 7,000 square feet spread across three levels at the base of the Jerome L. Green Science Center at the corner of 129th Street and Broadway near the 1 train subway station – the gateway to the Ivy League school’s new 6.8 million-square-foot campus.
Winick Realty Group’s Kelly Gedinsky – who represented both sides in the deal along with colleagues Kenneth Hochhauser and Michael Gleicher – said Steep Rock checked a few boxes that Columbia was looking for in a retail tenant.
On top of being a trendy activity that’s accessible to different age groups, the bouldering gym is something “that will draw in people from the neighborhood, not just students,” she said.
Columbia’s taken a number of steps – including commissioning an accessible, street-grid layout design by architect Renzo Piano – as a way to relieve tensions with community groups that opposed the expansion, which was facilitated in part through the use of eminent domain.
Gedinsky declined to comment on the deal’s financials, but said the landlord was motivated to sign a tenant that the neighboring community would patronize. Asking rents along 125th Street averaged $125 per square foot, according to the Real Estate Board of New York’s most recent retail report from the fall.
Steep Rock’s space includes a little more than 4,000 square feet on the ground floor with ceilings that go up as high as 45 feet tall.
The 9-story, 450,000-square-foot Jerome Greene building is the first to open and the largest at Columbia’s 17-building campus, which is scheduled to be completed by 2030.