Chicago-area developers and retail landlords are banking on the pickleball boom to revive dilapidated retail properties.

A new business wants replace Former rock climbing gym at Lincoln Park Market Square Shopping Center with Pickleball Club. In suburban Algonquin, Hubbard Street Group and squash court operator College Park Athletic Clubs are aiming to convert a former furniture store into a Topgolf-style pickle ball court, Crain’s report.

Pickleball is a racket sport between table tennis and tennis, which has rapidly become popular in recent years.With traditional retail properties still reeling from the pandemic, which has sparked an increase in online shopping, some landlords are fusing the country’s fastest growing sport into their holdings.

The Algonquin project, called Pickle Haus, will feature 12 indoor pickleball courts, three golf simulators, an event space and an outdoor patio. It will occupy a 41,000-square-foot building at 1621 South Randall Road, which was formerly the Dania Furniture Store until it closed in 2016.

Hubbard Street managing partner Graham Palmer told the outlet that Hubbard Street bought the site in 2019 and immediately leased it to health club chain 24 Hour Fitness. But the pandemic disrupted plans, and 24 Hour Fitness filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, allowing it to break out of its lease. Now, however, the joint venture is bullish on expanding its pickle ball portfolio.

“We’re very focused on Algonquin, but we’re definitely interested in scaling up,” College Park owner Jeff VanDixhorn told the outlet.

Meanwhile, the Lincoln Park Pickleball Club will occupy the 42,000-square-foot former Brooklyn Boulder climbing gym at 2121 North Claiborne Drive. The venture capital behind the project includes a group of investors from New York and Chicago. Market Square Mall is owned by a business led by the Kamberos family, who founded the Treasure Island grocery chain.

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Kamberos Ownership Group sues Brooklyn Boulders for renunciation of lease. The lawsuit asks a judge to order a Boulders, Brooklyn-based affiliate to pay $34.8 million in rent and other expenses as part of a lease that runs through 2039.

— Quinn Donoghue

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