Tag Archives: The Cliffs

Pol helps bust LIC rock gym owner for alleged bribery attempt


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Mike Wolfert

In the midst of ongoing turmoil in city politics, one politician has helped bring a Long Island City business owner to justice for an alleged bribery attempt.

According to the Department of Investigation, Mike Wolfert, owner of a rock climbing facility called The Cliffs, received a Stop Work Order for failing to obtain the correct permit to convert a large warehouse into a 30,000-square-foot climbing arena. An unannounced inspection by the City’s Department of Buildings (DOB) reportedly prompted the order.

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said on April 10, he received a “disturbing” and “inappropriate” message from Wolfert allegedly asking for help with the violations. The message allegedly offered to provide assistance promoting Van Bramer’s campaign in return for the favor.

After reading the email several times, Van Bramer believed the only appropriate response was to tell the City Council’s General Counsel, who then notified the Department of Investigation (DOI). The tip led to a four-week undercover investigation of Wolfert.

“I don’t believe there was an option here, I had an obligation to report it,” said Van Bramer. “I’m not a hero. Every elected official, if presented with something like this, should always respond like this.”

According to a criminal complaint issued by the district attorney, on two occasions Wolfert allegedly paid a total of $1,094 to a DOI undercover investigator posing as a DOB inspector offering help getting the Stop Work Order withdrawn.

Wolfert is charged with bribery in the third degree and unlawful continuance. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison for the bribery charge and fines up to $25,000 as well as up to a year in prison for the unlawful continuance.

“We’re grateful that at a time when some people are succumbing to corruption, this was reported to DOI,” said DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn. “Cutting corners illegally and paying off city employees is not acceptable.”

Michael Lambert, Wolfert’s lawyer, declined to comment at this point in the investigation. Wolfert also declined to comment.

The Cliffs was expected to open this month, but is now looking to open its doors in July.

 

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Country’s largest rock gym coming to Long Island City


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of Mike Wolfert

Belay on.

An enormous rock climbing gym is slated to open in Long Island City this April, featuring 30,000 square-feet of climbing walls, large enough to house 500 climbers. According to owner Mike Wolfert, The Cliffs at Long Island City will be one of the biggest rock climbing facilities in North America.

“It’s going to be one of the biggest gyms in the country,” Wolfert said. “It’s massive.”

Wolfert also owns The Cliffs at Valhalla in Westchester, which opened in September of 2005. He picked Long Island City for the new location based on the area’s “perfect demographics” and proximity to transportation.

“It’s obviously exploding right now,” said Wolfert of LIC. “The amount of growth with the restaurants and the bars right now, it’s the perfect position to be in when opening a new business.”

Wolfert, who has been a life-long rock climber, found it was a good way to stay fit when he worked for a marketing agency in California. After moving back to his home state of New York, he combined business savvy and his love of climbing and opened The Cliffs.

Wolfert said rock climbing is the fastest growing indoor sport in the country, adding that his Valhalla facility runs at full capacity. Rock climbing’s popularity comes from being a full-body workout that combines cardio, stretching and strength training into a routine that’s anything but monotonous, said Wolfert.

Climbers can scale 60 feet on the LIC building’s highest wall. The gym will incorporate three subsets of rock climbing: straight climbing called “top roping”; “bouldering,” a heavy weight, low repetition form of climbing that requires problem solving; and “lead climbing,” an advanced endeavor that most closely resembles outdoor rope climbing. Several of the custom-built rock walls’ patterns can be altered to keep climbers on a different course with each ascent.

The facility, formerly a warehouse, plans to include classes with certified instructors who teach everything from the basics to advanced climbing, after school programs for kids and birthday parties. Wolfert also said the gym will create more than 60 new jobs.

Since announcing plans for the new gym, Wolfert said response from locals and rock climbers across New York City has been nothing but positive.

“It’s more than just the Long Island City community,” he said. “Rock climbing, unlike fitness, there’s not one on every corner. People will travel from other boroughs. We’ve been getting great response from the rock climbing community at large.”

 

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