Battle Rock receives extension from Calhoun County Land Bank to secure its funding


Cereal City Athletics has just received an extension on its deal with the Calhoun County Land Bank, so it can work on securing its funding.

Cereal City Athletics is developing Battle Rock, a large climbing gym in the heart of downtown Battle Creek, at 50 W. Michigan Ave. The new deadline to have funding in place will be April 30, 2018.

Unfortunately, Cereal City Athletics currently has two major hurdles to cross before it can move forward. It needs to secure a new primary lender, and it needs to secure Michigan Economic Development Corp. funding. The primary lender Cereal City Athletics had obtained months back was sold, and the project was dropped, according to Battle Creek’s Downtown Development Director John Hart.

But Hart is “fairly confident” Cereal City Athletics can get a new primary lender, and the land bank seems to be as well, judging from the six-month extension the land bank gave.

The project scope is unusual for MEDC, as that agency typically deals with residential and mixed use developments, which has made the process longer than it usually is, according to Krista Trout-Edwards, executive director of the Calhoun County Land Bank Authority.

“MEDC likes mixed use projects,” Hart said. “They see that type of project as the best use of their dollars.”

However, a climbing facility needs big open spaces, which doesn’t lend well to being multi-use. Hart also brought up the various residential spaces already developed downtown, at places like Heritage Tower and McCamly Plaza.

“That’s the great thing about the downtown, its density,” he said.

The project is ambitious; the plan involves a zip-line, high ropes course, kids climbing area, a bouldering area and a climbing wall.

“We think it’ll be a great regional draw, plus it’ll be something to do for downtown residents,” said John Hart, Battle Creek’s downtown development director.

It’s also going to cost $3 million. However, Cereal City Athletics is working on trying to reduce costs.

The land bank is also staying involved with the project. One of the conditions of the extension is providing reports to the land bank on Battle Rock’s progress every other month.

“We are pleased with the dedication Cereal City Athletics has shown in renovating 50 W. Michigan in downtown Battle Creek and turn this long vacant building into a world-class climbing gym,” Trout-Edwards said. “We support the developer’s continued efforts to work through the MEDC grant process and have afforded them additional time to do so. Once complete, this facility will attract a range of climbers, including children, and act as a regional draw for downtown Battle Creek.”

Article Source: Battle Creek Enquirer