BROOKLYN, N.Y. — They’d take sites on Fifth Avenue and 34th Street, then leapfrog to the suburban malls. Now, big-name retailers are waking up to the inner-city neighborhoods in between.

Hybrid retail centers are sprouting along inner-city stretches, and since the late Nineties, retailing has been pouring into middle- and lower-income communities in the city’s boroughs. Wal-Mart; Kohl’s; Old Navy; Burlington Coat; Target; Penney’s; Sears; Foot Locker; Bed, Bath & Beyond; Ikea; Nine West; Home Depot; Athlete’s Foot; Ashley Stewart; Finish Line; Champs, and The Children’s Place are among the chains said to be aggressively scouting locations. The activity has picked up since Sept. 11, 2001, which opened up businesses to the potential of under-retailed areas outside Manhattan, where there are huge populations.

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