If recent real estate transactions are any indication, the Cape Fear region is experiencing a rise in demand for businesses that promote physical fitness.
Last week, workers broke ground on Wilmington Basketball Center, a new 16,400-square-foot facility that will feature two full-size basketball courts in Ogden Business Park.
“I started a travel basketball team a couple of years ago and struggled finding a place to practice,” said Brett Tanner, president of Pinnacle Trailers, who started the basketball center. “I decided we needed a facility to promote youth athletics.”
Pinnacle Trailers bought a little over three acres of land at 7207 Ogden Business Lane for $195,000 in December, according to New Hanover County property tax records. The basketball center will be the headquarters for travel basketball programs and Halo Hoops will use it for its Saturday youth basketball programs, Tanner said. The two courts can be divided in half to make four smaller courts that younger kids, like those on some of the Halo Hoops teams, can use, he said.
Blizzard Athletics, a basketball training facility founded by local basketball star Brett Blizzard, will also move into the Wilmington Basketball Center. Blizzard Athletics' current address is listed as 293 N. Green Meadows Drive on the facility's website.
Tanner said he expects the new center to be open by the spring of next year.
He said he chose Ogden Business Park as a location because a lot of families with children live in the area – elementary and middle schools are nearby – and he lives near the property.
Tanner pointed out that the property is also next to The Wilmington Ice House, an ice-skating facility at 7201 Ogden Business Lane.
As construction continues on Wilmington Basketball Center, at least two retail stores that cater to customers in need of athletic apparel are opening this month in Wilmington.
Fleet Feet Sports, A store known for running and walking shoes, accessories and apparel, will open Nov. 18 in Suite D at The Forum, 1125 Military Cutoff Road, and Outdoor Equipped
, the first brick-and-mortar store for an online business that sells a wide variety of outdoor apparel and fitness gear, is expected to open Nov. 20 at 272 N. Front St. in downtown Wilmington.
“I am very excited to bring Fleet Feet Sports to this area,” owner Michelle Fogle said in a news release. “My goal is to help people of all ages and abilities achieve their fitness goal by helping them find the right products to fit their needs. I also look forward to creating opportunities to bring people together with training programs, educational clinics and weekly group runs."
Chad Hankinson, a Wilmington resident who owns Outdoor Equipped with his brother Mike Mayo, said in an email that opportunities for outdoor exercise have been growing for some time as more people participate in events like the PPD Beach2Battleship Triathlon, held Oct. 25. The event brought more than 2,000 participants from 43 states to the Wilmington area.
Hankinson, who rides his bicycle regularly, said he has participated in six triathlons, including the B2B half iron distance event a few years ago.
“The personal journey of proving to yourself what you can accomplish and pushing yourself is what is driving increased participation in these events,” Hankinson said in the email.
A triathlon training facility
planned on more than 1,000 acres along the Northeast Cape Fear River in Pender County can be counted as another example of an increase in demand locally for the kind of facilities that athletes, or those who want to become more physically fit, want.
Hankinson said while the triathlon facility is a great idea, he believes one of the most important things moving forward is for Wilmington to continue the “great job” it has done in some areas by creating bike and running paths the public can use.
“I believe that our community needs to focus on an infrastructure that enables and encourages the general population to get outdoors and exercise safely. There is nothing better than riding my bike to the beach and passing families riding on the bike paths,” Hankinson said in the email. “That encourages and develops a family culture of outdoor activities and exercise.”
Construction has continued on Wilmington’s Gary Shell Cross-City Trail, and additional trails could be constructed if voters approve the $44 million transportation bond included on Tuesday’s ballot.
In terms of real estate, recent physical activity options new to the area haven't been limited to running, walking or biking.
DefyGravity, a trampoline gym chain with locations in Durham, Raleigh and Charlotte, bought the 23,000-square-foot Britt Motorsports building at 6431 Market St. in June and is working toward opening its facility in early 2015.
Bounce, a business geared toward children that includes bounce houses, giant slides and obstacle courses, represented the largest lease (in terms of square feet) in the first three quarters of 2014 in the Wilmington retail market, according to data gathered by CoStar Group, a firm that maintains a proprietary database of details on commercial transactions. Bounce opened in more than 12,000 square feet of space in Long Leaf Mall, 2800 S. College Road, this summer.