The retail vacancy rate in the Chicago area rose in the first quarter to the highest it’s been in nearly eight years, according to CBRE.
Compared to 9.5 percent in the previous year, the retail vacancy rate has reached 11.4 percent for January through March, which is approaching the post-recession peak of 12.1 percent in early 2010, according to Crain’s.
The surge in empty space is fueled by the trend of big chains like Toys “R” Us going out of business at the hands of Amazon and the surge in online shopping.
“The increase in vacancy is really a function of the liquidation from a slew of bankruptcies,” CBRE’s Sean McCourt told Crain’s.
Shopping centers are thriving, though, in dense, higher-income neighborhoods and suburbs like the city’s North Side, which had a first-quarter vacancy rate of 6.2 percent, and the western suburbs, at 7.4 percent, according to CBRE.
The south suburbs, meanwhile, had the highest vacancy rate at 19.9 percent, followed by the far west suburbs at 15 percent.
“The market is increasingly polarized,” McCourt told Crain’s. “There’s a lot of activity, but a lot of it is in the best spaces in the best markets.” [Crain’s] — John O’Brien