Rochester's The Garden skatepark built for 6-year-old beginners and 65-year-old veterans

Jan. 25—ROCHESTER — There isn't a person in Rochester more excited for The Garden skatepark to open than 12-year-old Charlie Kramer.

And that's not just because his parents, Laura and Adam, are the owners.

Charlie started skateboarding three years ago. It immediately became his sport, and Charlie spent hours outside in the warmer months at the outdoor skatepark in Rochester.

When the weather cooled and snow came, it became impossible for Charlie to skateboard locally, as the last indoor skatepark in Rochester closed in 2011. So Laura Kramer and Charlie would trek to the Twin Cities area, allowing Charlie to continue growing as a skater.

It was a lot of driving, but it was worth it, Laura Kramer said.

"They're so encouraging. That's what actually inspired me (to open The Garden)," she said. "I would take Charlie, and, being a 10-year-old, I'd have to watch him. Charlie would do something and these older guys would go and encourage him.

"It's like this group of people that are genuinely excited to help everybody else out. It's not this weird competitive thing. So I was like, 'I want more of that. And I want our kids to have more of that.'"

Soon, Rochester residents will be able to experience the culture of skateboarding, with The Garden slated to open in early- to mid-February. The Kramers bought the former Whiskey Bones building in August, but it needed about six months of construction, done by Adam Kramer, the owner of Kramer Contracting; Swamp Trog, the ramp designer; and Cory Distad, a longtime skateboarder, among others.

The space includes the skatepark — a 40-foot by 96-foot rectangular area — a skate shop and a coffee shop, where the Kramers' teenage daughters will be working.

Adding the coffee shop was a unique idea for a skatepark. Part of the reasoning stemmed from Laura's experiences at other skateparks: There isn't much for waiting moms to do besides sit on bleachers and watch. The coffee shop is a way to give every skatepark visitor something to do.

"I want this to feel like coming home," Laura said. "I want kids to feel like they can come get dropped off here and feel comfortable. Even if they're not skating, maybe they want to have some coffee and do their homework here. I want this to be (the place) they want to be."

Adam Kramer added that "it was appealing to provide a place where people could hang out and bring the youth into (the skating) community."

Once The Garden opens, area skaters will have a great place to learn or grow in the sport. It was the driving force behind the ramps at the skatepark, which were designed by Trog, who is the ramp builder at 3rd Lair in Golden Valley.

"(The ramps) are made to the specs that allow kids to learn to skateboard on, and also progress on," he said. "It's something for your first day as a skateboarder to your 30th year as a skateboarder."

"We're literally trying to capture that," Adam Kramer added. "We not only want to have the Corys of the world that have skated for 20 years. We want 6-year-olds that are learning to come and do it. too. Literally, that was exactly what we wanted it to be. That's what we built."