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      Filling empty spaces: more retail for Syracuse

      Koto's Japanese Steakhouse, now open on Erie Boulevard in Syracuse, may draw other businesses to the area. / Photojournalist Brian Erb

      A good economic sign for Syracuse: it's busier in traditional shopping and eating areas, and likely to get busier still.Bob Niedt, who monitors storefront comings and goings for the Post-Standard, says food is driving the upturn right now, with key national chains, like Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and Koto Japanese Steakhouse moving in. Niedt says that when one big chain comes in, others start looking. He calls it the McDonald's-Burger King effect: if one locates here, more think it might be worth exploring and setting up shop. Along Erie Boulevard, expect a Chipotle's by this fall, Cici's Pizza also just opened in the empty Yukon River Grill, and non-food chains are also coming, including Plato's Coset, popular with teen girls.Niedt says there are other watershed moves, including the Urban Outfitters being completed in Armory Square--he thinks that will draw more national retail to the area. And, while local boutique owners may worry about the competition, he points to Georgetown, in Washington, D.C., where local and nationally owned businesses co-exist and draw even more to the area.Back along Erie Boulevard, retailers seem to be moving into both DeWitt and Syracuse. Niedt says DeWitt has more zoning issues, but retailers like the more upscale zip code. He also points out that the businesses coming in, are coming because of market demands, not because they're being courted by governments with incentives. It's nice to be wanted!

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