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CHICAGO–The Chicago-area’s shopping center vacancy rate held at 10.1% during third quarter 2002, according to survey statistics compiled by CB Richard Ellis Inc. The survey researches properties of 50,000 sf and greater and tracks available space in 100 million sf of retail centers. It excludes regional malls. The vacancy rate was 9.3% during third quarter 2001. The rate’s low point during the survey’s 12-year history was 7.3% during first half 2000.

Although some retailers have scaled back their expansion plans, the CB Richard Ellis survey tracks over 230 who are still actively rolling out new locations in the Chicago metropolitan area. According to Todd Caruso, a managing director with CB Richard Ellis, “We anticipate a leveling office in certain categories such as cellular phones and specialty foods that are approaching saturation points or seeing industry consolidations.”

Within the Chicagoland area’s 81 million sf of community and neighborhood centers (usually discounter or grocery/drug anchored) the vacancy rate went up slightly to 9.9% from 9.8% during third quarter 2002. In the 13.2 million sf of unanchored strip shopping centers, the vacancy rate decreased to 14.9% from 15.3%. In free-standing centers (usually a group of several box retailers with a few specialty shops) which totals about 6.4 million sf in the Chicago area, the vacancy rate barely declined to 2.7% from second quarter 2002′s 2.8%.

At the close of third quarter 2002, there were approximately 5.1 million sf of shopping centers 50,000 sf or greater under construction in the Chicagoland area according to the CB Richard Ellis survey. The community and neighborhood center sector remains the fastest growing, accounting for about 3.6 million sf of projects-in-progress.

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