Recreational facility operator Picklemall, Inc. recently signed a lease agreement at Townline Commons in Vernon Hill, Ill., which is part of the company’s plan to open 50 locations across the country throughout the next two years.

Located at 5555 Town Line Road, this Chicagoland Picklemall will take over 46,000 square feet of Vernon Hills retail space formerly occupied by Toys “R” Us. Transwestern Real Estate Services reportedly worked on behalf of the tenant during the lease negotiations. Buildout is expected to be complete in Q1 2024.

The Vernon Hills site will serve as a flagship location for the startup, which debuted its first U.S. location — a 24-court facility — in Tempe, Ariz., in July.

This innovative, modular indoor pickleball concept plans to take over vacant mall spaces and combine real estate adaptive reuse with cutting-edge technology that helps players track and improve their games. Specifically, the Picklemall app allows users to reserve a court, set a playtime and unlock the door to the Picklemall experience. Once inside, gameplay is recorded by a camera to give players the ability to watch, analyze and learn from their game footage in real time.

According to the Association of Pickleball Professionals, pickleball experienced 35% growth from August 2022 to March 2023, making it the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. What used to be a popular retirement community pastime with a demographic of those 55 and older now claims 72% of players between the ages of 18 and 44.

As increasing demand far outpaces infrastructure growth, Picklemall’s strict focus on reusing existing indoor mall and strip mall properties looks to address players’ long wait times for an available court. This fast-paced growth potential earned Picklemall CEO, West Shaw, the backing of pickleball enthusiast, billionaire financier, and Major League Pickleball founder, Steve Kuhn.

“Pickleball has become a national phenomenon and, with the assistance of Transwestern, we can introduce more players to the sport while activating empty retail locations across the country,” Shaw said. “Having all the required expertise under one roof has enabled us to move quickly from concept to execution. Transwestern excels at delivering smart, creative solutions that achieve overarching goals, but also allow for flexibility.”

“We are honored to represent Picklemall and look forward to capitalizing on the excitement of this sport to deliver functional, inspiring real estate nationwide,” said Tim Katt, managing director of Transwestern’s Sports & Entertainment group. “Transwestern’s expertise in the sports and entertainment arena — as well as across retail, hospitality, and project and construction management — has allowed us to tap into the appropriate experts from the initial stages and explore our client’s vision from all angles,  ultimately paving the way for Picklemall’s success.”

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