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The pickleball pivot

Pickleball court

The nation’s fastest growing sport - Pickleball - has found a new home in vacant buildings. Shifting CRE trends, post-pandemic, have led to the creative adaptive reuse of spaces, which includes an increased focus on sustainability, as well as a greater awareness of C-PACE.

Recent economic uncertainty faced by the commercial real estate industry has resulted in some fascinating and inventive solutions/pivots by forward-thinking owners and developers, such as office buildings being converted to multifamily properties, historic conversions - and the latest craze - using vacant commercial real estate properties for pickleball courts.

Pickle ball racket and net

Pickleball, which combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong, and can be played indoors or outdoors, has been dubbed the fastest growing sport in the U.S. A recent Commercial Observer article shared that the number of players over the age of six has grown from 4.8 million in 2022 to 8.9 million in 2023.

“Pickleball courts have been increasingly filling empty mall anchor units, old warehouses, and box stores across the nation. These spaces have plenty of floor space, are situated close to residential areas and solve the noise problem outdoor pickleball creates,” says Nuveen Green Capital Associate Director, Portfolio Management, Jon Blahosky.

Developers in numerous U.S. cities and suburbs are finding spaces, such as former Bed, Bath and Beyond sites, to house courts for this growing trend. A recent CNN article: Pickleball is replacing Bed, Bath & Beyond and Old Navy at malls, reports, “A group called Pickleball America is taking over an 80,000 square-foot anchor space in Stamford, Connecticut, in a former two-story Saks Off 5th retail store this summer. It's set to become one of the largest indoor Pickleball venues in the United States.”

Adaptive reuse projects and how C-PACE can finance them.

The inventive use of commercial real estate space -- including conversions of buildings to pickleball courts as well as offices to multifamily properties -- as the CRE industry continues to adapt to consumer trends and a shifting economy, also includes an increased focus on sustainability. Nuveen Green Capital has provided C-PACE financing to fund sustainability measures for numerous projects that have helped to reimagine and convert existing properties, while increasing their energy efficiency and return on investment. For example, The DuPont Building in Wilmington, Delaware was formerly the DuPont Company’s headquarters until 2015 when C-PACE financing was used to help fund the conversion of the iconic building to a mixed-use space that includes a hotel, retail space and a theater. Similarly, C-PACE financing enabled the Sinclair Building in Tulsa to be converted from a historical office building into a 64-unit multifamily property.

Overall, shifting trends to convert old spaces for new, different uses presents exciting opportunities for energy efficiency, cost savings - and the economy.

To learn more about how C-PACE financing can fund conversion projects, visit:

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