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CHICAGO—Retail has started to escape the grip of the recession, and builders in the sector have seen the results. “We recently tripled the size of our estimating staff,” says Chuck Taylor, the director of operations for Lemont, IL-based Englewood Construction. “Activity is through the roof.”

Englewood and other retail builders have come a long way since 2008, the year construction activity dried up. Taylor says that year had been shaping up as their best since the company was founded in 2001. But “by Labor Day, the faucet just shut off, and there was absolutely nothing to bid on.” In 2012, however, inquiries from both landlords and tenants about possible projects were flowing into the office. And by July 2012, Englewood had already equaled the number of bids seen in 2008. Taylor estimates that the company is on its way to, by the end of this year, doubling the business they did in 2008. “I won’t say things are looking great, but they’re definitely looking good.”

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