LUTZ — A trio of vacant big box stores are getting bounced.
Three separate trampoline parks are coming to Pasco County, filling two empty storefronts in west Pasco and a third vacancy in Lutz.
The growth is part of an international boom of trampoline parks, which have increased from 40 facilities seven years ago to 800 parks domestically and 1,200 total worldwide, according to the International Association of Trampoline Parks.
In Pasco, the planned parks are:
• Flying Squirrel, which is moving to the vacant store formerly occupied by Kmart at the corner of State Road 54 and Collier Parkway in Lutz. The Idaho-based chain opened a park in Montana and has four others under development in the U.S., including the facility in Pasco. It also has parks in Canada and elsewhere. It bills itself as the "world's largest indoor trampoline fun parks.''
Interestingly, the company's web site says the location is in Wesley Chapel. The Kmart store closed two years ago.
Cody Schueler, CEO, of Flying Squirrel said the Lutz park is his company's first East coast location. It picked the spot, he said, after a family friend who lives in the area expressed concern about a dearth of activities for youths.
"So we wanted to provide that opportunity for kids to enjoy some healthy, active fun,'' Schueler said.
The park is aiming for a Sept. 1 opening and will employ 65. It will have a full restaurant and 20,700 square feet of trampoline space, Schueler said.
• Urban Air Adventure Park, which last month announced its plans to go into the former Sports Authority store in the Embassy Crossing shopping center at 9560 U.S. 19, Port Richey. The Dallas-based company has 101 parks open or under development. It boasts of offering an adventure hub of indoor ropes courses, climbing walls and a "sky rider" indoor coaster. It is targeting a fall opening.
• Get Air, which said it plans to open this summer at the former Kash 'n Karry store at SR 54 and Rowan Road, New Port Richey. Get Air has 75 locations open or under development in 33 states, plus locations in Finland, Canada, Mexico and Japan.
The parks' simultaneous development raised eyebrows within the retail industry.
"Three? That's a lot,'' said Jeff Green, a Phoenix-based retail feasibility consultant. "I think, honestly, it's too much.''
The trampoline parks touch both the entertainment and fitness industries. They are popular for families, offering activities for energetic toddlers all the way up to adults seeking a fun way to burn calories. The bouncing, spinning and flipping opportunities, plus games of dodgeball and basketball dunking, make the locations popular for childrens' birthday parties
"It's a new form of family of entertainment that we've never seen before,'' said Bethany Evans, executive vice president of the trampoline parks trade association.
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Already, there are at least four parks in Tampa and Brandon — BOING! Sky Zone, Altitude and AirHeads. Saturation of the larger markets has caused companies to begin moving into the tertiary locations over the past 12 to 18 months, said Evans.
Moving trampoline parks into vacant big box stores can allow tenants to take advantage of the existing high ceilings, while requiring a landlord to do less build-out of the interior, said Green, since display racks and other accoutrements wouldn't be needed.
Pasco Commission Chairman Mike Wells Jr. embraced the redevelopment after mentioning the Get Air park during a recent commission meeting.
"It gives kids something to do,'' he said afterward. "It's important, especially here in west Pasco.''
Contact C.T. Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2