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ALLEN, TX-It’s not news that the past year has seen retail take a huge hit in terms of leasing. But for every big box that goes dark and every tenant that is begging for relief from a landlord, experts tell GlobeSt.com that others are signing up for, or renewing, space.

Village at Allen, part of MGHerring Group’s three-million-square-foot, mixed-use developing sprawling across Allen and neighboring Fairview, TX, opened 15 stores and restaurants, with four more anticipated to open by the end of 2009. In recent weeks, a handful of leases have also been completed, with stores set to open shortly.

Gar Herring, an executive with the Dallas-based MGHerring Group says Dallas-area retail, in general, has weathered the recession somewhat more successfully than other parts of the nation. Furthermore, he comments, speakers and participates at the recent International Council of Shopping Centers conference were somewhat more optimistic about the end of 2009 and 2010.

Furthermore, comparing the current scenario with this time last year, the situation seems almost cheery. “At this time, last year, sales really took a dive,” Herring comments. “During the past year, we’ve seen retailers trimming overhead and inventory, and making supply lines more efficient. The feeling among many retailers is the worst is behind us.” As a result, he continues, retailers are committing to signing new leases and opening new stores.

Earl Harris, senior vice president, director of project leasing with Weitzman Group in Dallas agrees with Herring’s assessment, adding that the leasing volumes have been fairly positive, especially recently. It’s more challenging to make a deal these days, but with the right project and flexibility on the part of landlords and retailers, deals can be done, says Harris, who did not handle the recent leases at Village at Allen.

Harris goes on to say that deals are being made across all product lines, from strip centers to grocery-anchored centers. Additionally, Herring points out that the bulk of deals coming to Village at Allen and Village at Fairview consist of local and regional tenants.

What 2010 will bring, however, depends on year-end holiday sales. Harris predicts that absorption will be flat, though leasing will remain active. Furthermore, though some more retailers will likely shut down, “we’ll be able to backfill the space,” Harris adds.

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