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Is There Life After Borders For Empty Retail Buildings?

UPDATED 09/13/11 8:49 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Borders, the bankrupt business that once operated more than two dozen stores in the Chicago area, is down to its final days.

The Michigan-based chain has left behind empty store fronts. But as CBS 2's Dorothy Tucker reports, retail experts don't expect them to be vacant very long.

On Monday, there were only 72 hours before Borders was to go out of business for good. The store was selling everything, from books to book cases.

"It's just going to be missed terribly," customer Lindsey Freireich said.

Borders started closing some of its several stores in the Chicago area in 2009. The State Street location is among the last of the stores that will soon be vacant, upon closing Wednesday.

Anthony Campagni represents retailers looking for commercial spaces like those being vacated by Borders.

His prediction is that most of the former Borders locations will be rented by next spring. HHGregg just opened last week in the old Borders location in suburban Norridge.

But it will be a different kind of retailer drawn to the old Borders spots city neighborhoods, where rents are higher.

At urban locations like the former Borders at 755 W. North Ave., experts say landlords will have to divide the space and look for several retailers.

At the former Borders at 2817 N. Clark St., a pop-up Halloween costume store is preparing to open, although it will close after Halloween is over.

As for the soon-to-be-vacant State Street site, Campagni isn't worried. It's especially popular with discount retailers.

"State Street is a very active market; a sought-after market," he said.

For several years, Borders was a retail giant in Chicago. Many of the Borders stores, including the locations in the old Goldblatt's building in Uptown and along the "Miracle Mile" of 95th Street in Beverly, were heralded as the catalysts for economic revitalization in their areas.

But all the remaining city Borders locations except the State Street store, and most of the remaining suburban locations, closed this spring when the company reorganized in Bankruptcy Court.

Borders will accept gift cards up until the point it shuts its doors for good.

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