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Grocery drives new developments in Chicagoland


New shopping center development in the Chicago metropolitan area will barely top 1 million sq. ft. in 2017, a nearly 50% plunge from just two years ago, according to Mid-America Real Estate Corporation.

“While new construction is not as robust as previous years, adaptive reuse of existing retail space continues to offer an opportunity for expanding retailers,” said Andy Bulson, the company’s director of suburban tenant representation.

Where new GLA does appear, reveal

Andy Bulson

ed the company’s annual Chicagoland Shopping Center Report, it’s often fueled by food. Ten of the 14 centers developed in 2016 were anchored by grocery stores, as are seven of the 11 planned for 2017.

Purveyors of gourmet, fresh, and organic options lead the way. Mariano’s was Chicago’s fastest-growing grocer in 2016 with 214,704 sq. ft., and the chain will open two more locations this year totaling 143,000 sq. ft. Whole Foods was second last year, adding 143,000 sq. ft.

“We are still seeing residual growth in the grocery category largely the result of others pursuing the market share Dominick’s once held,” said Bulson.

New retail square footage in Chicago being led by two mass merchandisers: Meijer and Walmart.

In 2016, Meijer added 192,000 sq. ft. of retail space in Flossmoor and 195,000 sq. ft. in Round Lake. Walmart expanded its presence with a 182,000-sq.-ft. store in Olympia Fields and a 195, 000-sq.-ft. store in Richton Park.

Another mass retailer continues to expand in Chicago, though in smaller chunks. Target opened two Target Express stores in densely populated urban area adding up to a total of 53,000 sq. ft. in 2016. Two more Express locations are planned for 2017 — a 29,000-sq.-ft. store on Clark Street in Chicago and a 40,000-sq.-ft. store in Oak Park.

According to the Mid-America Report, retail development in Chicagoland reached a peak in 2007 with 8.4 million sq. ft. of GLA. Then came the recession and nine consecutive years of growth in the 1-to-2-million-sq.-ft. range.
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