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by Alex Nixon

KALAMAZOO — South Kalamazoo Mall still retains the skyline of department store buildings that once anchored this shopping district.

Cars now crawl down the center of a one-lane street whose only traffic for 40 years was shoppers on foot.

The two-block strip — Kalamazoo’s famed pedestrian mall — was the center of retail until suburban shopping malls sucked away business with their ample free parking and chain stores.

But more than a decade after the last of the department stores closed their doors — marking a low-point for downtown shopping — officials say retail is back.

For the first time in 40 years, every downtown storefront is either filled or has agreements to be filled soon, said Ken Nacci, president of Downtown Kalamazoo Inc.

An influx of downtown apartment dwellers frequent the new restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.

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