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Newtown to Welcome New Facility Pending Approval

Newtown to Welcome New Facility: The once-bustling Bed, Bath and Beyond store at the Newtown Shopping Center has been silent for months, its expansive interior echoing with the memories of shoppers past. But now, a new chapter is ready to begin, as the township’s Planning Commission has granted approval for The Picklr, a pickleball facility, to bring life back to the shuttered space.

In a move that could have avid pickleballers buzzing, The Picklr, a Utah-based chain of pickleball venues, aims to transform the vacant store into an 11-court haven for the sport. The proposal now awaits the final nod from the township supervisors at their July meeting, a green light that would set the stage for an early autumn opening.

“It’s better than an empty store,” Peggy Driscoll, chair of the Planning Commission, remarked, reflecting a sentiment shared by many in the community. The Picklr’s detailed proposal, submitted to the township, paints a picture of an exclusive, reservation-only facility with a membership cap set at 1,500. Such restrictions, they argue, are designed to ensure the influx of players does not disrupt the already busy shopping center.

The facility’s courts, available strictly by hourly reservation, promise a streamlined experience aimed at minimizing traffic. Each member’s visit is projected to last no more than 90 minutes, including a 30-minute warmup period. With a maximum of four players per court, The Picklr anticipates that even during peak times—Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday and Sunday mornings—only 44 members will be present simultaneously.

Driscoll revealed that the shopping center had reached out to various retail companies to fill the void left by Bed, Bath and Beyond’s departure. “They weren’t interested,” she noted, making The Picklr’s interest in the location all the more significant.

Newtown to Welcome New Facility 1

For Newtown, The Picklr represents more than just a new business. It embodies a shift towards recreational activities that cater to a diverse demographic. “Pickleball is a lower-energy, low exertion activity, so it’s ideal for older folks who like to be active but at an easier pace than tennis,” Driscoll explained, highlighting the sport’s appeal to the township’s older residents.

Tom Bannar, the franchisee behind The Picklr’s Newtown venture, echoed these sentiments in a letter to the township. He emphasized that the facility is not a gym or traditional fitness center, drawing a stark contrast to the high membership numbers seen at places like Planet Fitness. “Your average Planet Fitness has anywhere from 8,000-12,000 members,” Bannar wrote, showing the exclusivity and community-focused nature of The Picklr.

In addition to regular play, The Picklr plans to offer its space for corporate events, though such bookings would require renting the entire facility for designated time slots.

News in Brief: Newtown to Welcome New Facility

As Newtown’s residents await the supervisors’ decision, the excitement is noticeable. Should approval be granted, the quiet, empty aisles of the former Bed, Bath and Beyond will soon be replaced with the rhythmic sounds of dinks, lobs, and volleys, marking a new era for the shopping center and the community it serves.

ALSO READ: Pickleball Camp at Hurley YMCA: Engaging Youth and Building Community

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