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PHILADELPHIA-The retail climate in Philadelphia is tough just like anywhere else, and people doing business in the sector are trying to find ways to adapt to store closings and a stagnant financing climate. Speakers yesterday at Incisive Media’s RealShare Philadelphia detailed how they are weathering the storm.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, for one, is still big on expanding into the Metro area to between 40 and 50 locations from the eight it currently has. But with projects not getting off the ground and some shopping venues in distress, it’s getting tougher to find favorable locations, said Lisa Drake, the company’s real estate manager who oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey for the Denver-based chain.

“We’ve been challenged to maintain our development pipeline,” she said. “We are closely scrutinizing deals, and we are being very cautious. We’re making better decisions at the end of the day.”

Landlords need to adapt as well, said Brandon Famous, founder and chief executive officer of Plymouth Meeting-based Fameco Real Estate. Now that tenants are vacating spaces more rapidly, it’s time to get creative.

“To survive today’s climate, you have to look at alternative uses,” Famous said. “If you have a vacancy, you have to take a look and find the next highest and best use for a shopping center.”

Sometimes those uses aren’t always retail. Many shopping centers are taking on medical tenants or educational concepts to fill spaces left by apparel chains and other stores, he pointed out.

Landlords’ expectations of tenants are also changing. For example, there is less of a concentration on credit worthiness, said Steven Gartner, president of locally based Metro Commercial Real Estate.

“Good credit is not as much of a factor as having a good, rent-paying operation,” he said. “Expanding retailers are finding opportunities.”

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