OAK BROOK, IL—With little new construction happening in retailreal estate, and some tenants that are still vacating space, manylandlords in this commercial real estate sector are looking tobackfill empty stores. The Inland Group of Cos.(RECon booth C1027) is among them and has successfully executedthese leasing deals, specifically in the Chicago area. Joe Cosenza,vice chairman and a director of the Oak Brook, IL-based firm, tellsus about Inland's success in this arena.

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"The term 'backfilling' usually means, inconstruction, digging down to put in the footings for your houseand then building the cement wall on top of it for your basement,all of which becomes your foundation," says Cosenza. "Once that isdone, a backhoe or a front-end loader, comes in and fills in thegap that occurred between the dirt that was moved and the footingsand cement wall that was built."

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But Cosenza thinks about it differently in the retail space."Well, in retail it means not having to use a backhoe or front-endloader, but your intelligence, to see who might fit in that onenewly created vacant space. Backfilling was non-existent in 2008through 2012, but in 2013 there are four examples of it in theChicagoland area that Inland achieved.

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"At Lincoln Village, in Chicago, a Borders wentout of business and a Ross Dress For Less moved in. In Orland Park,at Ravinia Plaza, another Borders went out ofbusiness, and a Whole Foods Market took its place. An Office Depotclosed at Rivertree Court in Vernon Hills, and we filledit with a Ross Dress For Less. Finally, in Crystal Lake, atCrystal Point, yet another Borders closed, anda Fresh Market was secured as a replacement. Backfilling by Inlandwhere the rent is higher than the previous rent is what we call'classic backfilling.'"

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