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Emerging Competitive Socializing Concepts, Discounter Leasing and 5 Noteworthy Leases

March 31, 2023

The number of competitive socializing concepts, which combine high-end dining with competitive games, has grown 386% in the U.S. since the beginning of 2021, according to Cushman & Wakefield research. These concepts offer spacious venues for group events beyond traditional nightclubs and sports bars and are well funded by venture capital. They look for locations near corporate offices, seeking sales from corporate outings and post-work party seekers.

The concepts are good matches for high-end malls in crowded urban areas. According to Cushman & Wakefield and Green Street, 22% of Class A-plus malls report at least one anchor vacancy. These range from 10,000 to 30,000 square feet on average, large enough for competitive socializing concepts.

The trend is active in the U.K. Formula 1 recently opened a 16,000-square-foot F1 Arcade near St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. And one of the largest malls in the U.K., Sheffield’s Meadowhall, recently added a late-night attraction called Clubhouse, featuring a bowling alley, miniature golf and other games.

U.K. chains are eyeing the U.S. for expansion, too. Ten months ago, London-based Swingers opened its first U.S. unit, in a 22,500-square-foot below-grade level of New York City’s Virgin Hotel. The space includes three nine-hole miniature golf courses, multiple bars and a dining area. The company is scouting more locations within U.S. city centers with central access, said Cushman & Wakefield executive director of retail services Jason Greenstone, who’s helping the company grow its U.S. presence. It has two locations in London, two in D.C., and others planned for large U.S. cities.

State of Play Hospitality, which operates the darts-centric Flight Club; ping-pong-focused AceBounce, U.K. sister brand Bounce; and bingo concept Hijingo. The company plans to add six to eight units a year in the U.S., and more elsewhere.

Other growing players are Larks Entertainment, which offers shuffleboard, obstacle courses and miniature golf; outdoor/indoor pickleball concept Chicken N Pickle; and golf-focused Puttshack.

More on Competitive Socializing

September 2022: Pickleball Craze Helps Fill Vacancies
April 2022: The Hottest New Experiential Retail Category
June 2021: Experiential Tenants Are Lining Up for Retail Space

Discounter Leasing in 2022 — and 2023

Dollar General, At Home and TJX Cos. opened enough new stores in 2022 to equal a large regional shopping center, according to CoStar Group. As the three biggest leasers of retail space, in that order, they took a combined 1.3 million square feet during the period. Planet Fitness, Burlington, Target, Dollar Tree, TrueValue hardware stores parent Acon, Harbor Freight and Crunch Fitness rounded out the retailers leasing the most new store space for the year. Don’t expect the trend to continue though, according to CoStar national director of U.S. retail analytics Brandon Svec. The declining housing market likely will put a damper on the expansion plans of some of the home improvement and decor retailers that have been benefiting, he said. Dollar stores, however, are still going strong. Dollar General, for example plans to open 1,050 stores in 2023.

5 Recent Noteworthy Leases

Interest rates and bank news concern many, but they haven’t stopped leases from getting signed. Marketplaces Industry players have inked several big retail transactions recently.

Port St. Lucie, Florida: Academy Sports + Outdoors signed a 15-year lease for a store to be built at Shoppes at St. Lucie West. The 63,000-square-foot store is slated to open in the fourth quarter. Katz & Associates represented landlords Hampshire and Redfearn Capital, and Strategic Retail Advisors represented the tenant.

Chicago: H&M signed a lease to move into a 30,000-square-foot, four-level former Apple store on North Michigan Avenue that has been empty for five years. H&M is relocating from a larger store nearby.

Roseville, Minnesota: Dick’s Sporting Goods will move into a new building on the anchor parcel formerly occupied by Herberger’s at the 1.1 million-square-foot Rosedale Center. Construction has started, and the store’s opening is planned for late 2024.

New York City: 7-Eleven is coming to Herald Square. The 2,200-square-foot store at 128 W. 34th St. in Manhattan is slated to open in late summer 2023. Katz & Associates represented the 7-Eleven franchisee in the 15-year lease, and Newmark represented the landlord. “This is the perfect use in one of if not the most heavily foot-trafficked blocks in NYC,” said Katz & Associates managing director Scott Sher.

Everett, Washington: Ulta Beauty and At Home signed leases for a former Sears site undergoing redevelopment at Everett Mall in this suburb 30 miles north of Seattle. Existing tenant Ulta will occupy 10,000 square feet, and At Home will take 85,000 square feet. Mattis Partners represented the landlord Brixton. Real Retail represented At Home, and Northwest Retail Partners represented Ulta.

By Brannon Boswell

Executive Editor, Commerce + Communities Today

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