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Specialty service-oriented retail growth is a sure bet for 2023

By Nick Pape, Old Forge Builders

The Mid-Atlantic US’ commercial construction activity of 2023 seems to be lively for those involved in specialty, service-oriented retail such as Old Forge. Previous years have brought us a wide range of commercial project type builds, but this year’s top categories seem to tell a story of unshakable tenant uses that won’t be easily hindered (by factors like COVID, an overly trendy allure fading, etc.)

The top contenders on our bid schedule recently:

1. Demand for childcare has waitlists overflowing and Mid-Atlantic landlords embracing the use

Forward-thinking parents with a local day care facility in mind are “getting their name in the game” and placing themselves on waiting lists often even before their child is even conceived in some cases. The local demand for childcare is insatiable and we’ve seen landlords and operators alike thriving in pursuit of these projects. Partnering with established concepts like The Learning Experience, Goddard School, Primrose School, Lightbridge Academy, Montessori School, Kiddie Academy or Tutor Time, can involve carefully selected details and building features that have already been approved in a brand’s consistent prototype so that centers are purpose-built, safe, and intentional to age. Even doggy day care brands have been a popular category worth pursuit for millennial-dense areas seeking coverage for their “fur babies” while going to the office or traveling.

2. “Doc in a Box” medical care sees the strength of a small format, high-volume storefront

Whether a dental or general medical concept, health systems are embracing the benefit of an in-line storefront offering an additional care choice without long waiting room lines and no appointment. In a trend known as “medtail” – health care providers are increasingly opting for former retail stores for their offices and clinics. While the thought of having sick people among retail centers was previously unwelcomed, now they are generating foot traffic that works nicely with other adjacent retailers embracing the wellness and self-care wave.

3. Swim schools are a strong traffic source with established franchisees equipped to thrive

Swim school institutions in our market have been making a big splash in the retail sector. Often, the ownership structure has several facilities under their belt and the businesses are fruitful given the growing popularity of swim safety, beginning as early as a child’s infancy stages. While these fit-outs can be complicated, an experienced GC makes all the difference in accurately Forecasting costs and acquiring materials without trouble.

4. Auto care, as shown by COVID, is a service-based tenant poised for growth

Both car wash and oil change facilities have been big, especially within our Pennsylvania and New Jersey workload recently. It’s no secret that even with the emergence of more EV production, this tenant type won’t be seeing reductions in new locations this year. We’ve seen these tenants shine when they have strong equipment partners and selections in the queue, rather than hold projects up with long lead-time items facing supply chain challenges.

About the Author

Nick Pape is COO at Old Forge Builders.

Pape oversees all field and office operations for Old Forge Builders’ commercial division. Over the course of forty years in operation, Old Forge has evolved into pursuit of several project categories. What has remained constant is our approach. Our vision is simple: quality construction with a relationship-focus. Our defining factor is our team and their keen eye for detail. Nick consistently serves as our clients’ trusted advocate, helping deliver headache-free project execution for a roster of diverse ownership. He looks forward to each opportunity to showcase the “Old Forge Difference” and market knowledge, growing upon the impact we have provided for four decades.

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