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CHICAGO-Englewood Construction has begun work on the build-out of Zara’s new Michigan Avenue store. The 33,000-square-foot location will become the Spanish retailer’s first downtown Chicago and second Midwest location. Zara is expected to move in October into its new space at the eight-story Chicago Place building, 700 N. Michigan Ave.

“Zara will be an excellent addition to one of the world’s iconic shopping avenues,” says Bill Di Santo, president of Englewood Construction. “From a construction perspective, the store offers a very clean, sophisticated interior with modern finishes that lends itself well to the international clientele of Michigan Avenue.” Zara will be moving into three levels of space – the street level, mezzanine and second floor – formerly occupied by Talbots.

Montreal-based AEdifica Inc. designed Zara’s Chicago Place store, which includes its own elevator and escalators, and a glass storefront along Michigan Avenue and Huron Street. This project represents the third time Englewood has been brought in to work on a Zara store. The commercial general contractor also completed Zara’s first Midwest location late last year at Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center in Skokie, IL, in addition to a location in Peabody, MA.

“Zara is one of the fastest-growing retail brands in the world, so it’s been very exciting teaming up with them as they expand their presence in the United States,” Di Santo says. “To keep its momentum, Zara is aligning itself with partners like us. Since they have the same key points of contact on every job with us, there’s no learning curve involved and it’s a much smoother process.”

Englewood maintains that while retail has taken an economic hit recently, Michigan Avenue remains in demand as a crucial shopping district. Englewood also recently completed work on the new American Girl Place store in Water Tower Place at 835 Michigan Avenue. “While retailers as a whole are facing a challenging market, brands like American Girl and Zara continue to do well because they offer buyers a unique shopping experience – from the design of the store to the merchandise,” Di Santo says.

Retail occupancy rates on the north side of the city are around 94%, according to CB Richard Ellis’ Q1 market report. Asking lease rates in the area range from $22 to $29 per square foot, according to the research.

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