HOUSTON – New Jersey-based Lightbridge Academy has selected NewQuest Properties’ Shops at Katy Reserve in Fort Bend County as a launchpad for its Texas expansion, signing a 10-year lease to outplay the competition for turnkey daycare space.
Lightbridge Academy’s first franchisee in the Lone Star State has leased 9,282 sf in a four-month round of talks to rein in the largest vacancy in NewQuest’s 244,281-sf development in west Katy. It’s the first of three locations to be locked in by franchisees Samit Darne, who’s owned and operated multiple franchise businesses, including Marble Slab Creamery, Graze Craze and Petland, and Bhautik Patel and Premal Dhebariva, both experienced operators of Lightbridge Academy centers in New Jersey.
“We had two competing proposals so the franchisees had to move quickly and show they were interested in the space long-term,” says Lara Lee LaMendola, broker associate with locally based NewQuest Properties.
Lightbridge Academy has more than 140 early education and child-care centers open, under construction or in development in the U.S., primarily in the Northeast. Houston is deemed a prime growth market, with 30 to 35 centers on its radar screen. In addition to Katy, the chain is targeting Cypress, The Woodlands, Atascocita and Pearland.
The 99%-leased Shops at Katy Reserve is located at the crossroads of FM 1463 and Spring Green Boulevard. The driving force behind the quick-moving transaction is the surrounding neighborhood – a collection of master-planned residential communities with home prices ranging from a modest $260,000 to a luxury level topping $1 million.
The five-mile trade area boasts more than 226,000 residents with an average household income of $140,000 per year. Nearly 20,000 homes are on drawing boards for future development.
“Daycares are needed with the high number of families in the immediate area,” says LaMendola, whose shares the leasing assignment with Kevin Sims, a NewQuest vice president.
NewQuest’s previous tenant in the space was a daycare provider who opened in 2020 and was upended by the pandemic. “It’s essentially brand-new space that was practically turnkey,” LaMendola says. “It’s great co-tenancy for the shopping center.”
The Shops at Katy Reserve is categorized as a neighborhood essential services center anchored by a 123,000-sf Kroger Marketplace with a roster of medical, retail, restaurant and other complementary users. Lightbridge Academy will neighbor Texans Fit, a 36,896-sf freestanding luxury gym, and abut a premier salon, Image Studios 360, in the same building as the project’s only vacancy, totaling 1,098 sf.
“Having a daycare in the Shops at Katy Reserve helps the community, “LaMendola adds, “and fills perhaps the last tenant category in the center.”
Lightbridge Academy has been named to Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 for seven years running and is marking its second year on Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies. Cory Darden of Mohr Partners represented the franchisees.
SOUTH TEXAS LEASES
Kiku Ramen + Boba has leased 1,400 sf of retail space in Stableside, located at the intersection of Gaston Road and Falcon Landing Boulevard, in Katy from NewQuest Properties. Lara Lee LaMendola of NewQuest Properties represented the landlord. Danna Sossen of ICO Commercial represented the tenant.