UPDATED: JANUARY 4, 2018 4:14 PM — A new local development group is bringing its own indoor cycling studio brand to market, with the first space leased in Winter Park, a second coming in Downtown Orlando and aggressive franchise growth planned for 2018.
Joe Wheeler, principal with Winter Park-based Blink Development Group, has partnered with private investors over the past year to develop Rukus Cycling Studios, with plans to finance the brand's first two locations locally and drive further growth through franchisees.
"We think there is a really high need for premium cycling exercise, and while there's an established footprint in large cities across the country we saw a greater need in the B-level cities," Wheeler told GrowthSpotter. "So we thought a great place to demonstrate that and launch first was Orlando, with so much of the population being very exercise-conscious."
Wheeler's team began their site search about six months ago and honed in quickly on UP Development's Winter Park Square, located at the northeast corner of N. Orlando Avenue and Lee Road.
Wheeler signed Rukus' first lease in mid-November for the final 2,500-square-foot inline space in Winter Park Square's Phase 1, directly north of secondary anchor Nordstrom Rack, with construction plans now under review by city staff. Jason Kaiser of SRS Real Estate Partners has represented UP Development in its Winter Park Square leasing.
"We think it's a premium spot with wonderful anchors," Wheeler said. "Based on our current pace, we're estimating a soft opening there by early March 2018."
About one mile directly south, the first area location for competitor CycleBar in Winter Park's Lakeside Crossing just celebrated its one-year anniversary in September, helping affirm market demand for this fitness niche.
"CycleBar was the first boutique indoor cycling studio in Greater Orlando and we've been extraordinarily well received," said co-owner and franchisee Mathew Steinberg. "We're finding this is a niche in boutique fitness that has been missing from Orlando, and we're thrilled with the community that we've built so far."
Rukus Cycling's second location should be signed by mid-December, Wheeler said, for a Downtown Orlando retail space "near Lake Eola."
(UPDATE: Rukus signed a ground-floor lease in late December at the Skyhouse apartments building, 335 N. Magnolia Ave.)
Looking forward, the company has sold franchise rights for the Jacksonville and Atlanta markets and will be developing sites there, and plans to develop more locations in Central Florida, Wheeler said.
By December 2018, Rukus Cycling is targeting 150 location rights sold and 30 studios opened, he added.
Inline retail spaces of 1,900 to 3,000 square feet are being sought, with a projected all-in investment of $600,000 to $800,000 per location, Wheeler said.
"We're looking for truly premium locations, and are not as focused on traffic count as we are on if it can feel like a destination with good parking access and supporting (retail traffic)."