published Friday, November 4th, 2011

Hamilton Place Mall celebrates completion of multimillion-dollar renovation

Alan Lebovitz, senior vice president of asset management of CBL, speaks to a gathering of Hamilton county officials, CBL management and Hamilton Place shoppers Thursday morning in the mall parking lot. The Hamilton Place mall celebrated the completion of its multimillion-dollar renovation.
Alan Lebovitz, senior vice president of asset management of CBL, speaks to a gathering of Hamilton county officials, CBL management and Hamilton Place shoppers Thursday morning in the mall parking lot. The Hamilton Place mall celebrated the completion of its multimillion-dollar renovation.
Photo by Jenna Walker.
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• Opening: 1987

• Size: 1 million square feet

• Last remodeled: 1998

• Stores: 160 specialty stores anchored by J.C. Penney, Sears, Dillards, Belk

• Restaurants: 30 inside and outside

• Visitors: 16 million to mall and surrounding complex annually

Source: CBL

  • photo
    The Little Debbie mascot twirls Maya McCain, 3, to the music playing in the parking lot of the Hamilton Place Mall Thursday morning. Hamilton county officials, corporate figures from CBL, and shoppers gathered together to celebrated the completion of the mall's multimillion-dollar renovation.
    Photo by Jenna Walker /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Hamilton Place mall showed off its multimillion-dollar upgrade Thursday, and Charles Lebovitz and Ben Landress recalled when the company they helped found built the Chattanooga shopping center.

“We had the pleasure of assembling the 200 acres,” said Lebovitz, CBL & Associates Properties Inc.’s chairman. “It was nothing like it is today.”

About 4,500 people now work at the mall and nearby stores off Interstate 75 and Shallowford Road, officials said.

Marking the renovation’s completion, Lebovitz and Landress were cited by Mayor Ron Littlefield for their decades-long effort leading CBL and developing the center that opened in 1987.

Lebovitz said the so-called “super regional mall” remains one of the top two or three in CBL’s portfolio of 160 properties the company owns or manages in 27 states.

“Hamilton Place continues to grow sales,” he said. The mall and surrounding stores generate about $40 million in sales tax revenue annually, according to officials.

Landress, CBL’s executive vice president of management, said Hamilton Place turned out better than officials expected.

“I don’t think people envisioned all the development around it,” he said.

Littlefield remembered he was at the opening of the mall 24 years ago as the city’s newly elected public works commissioner. The roads in the area were little better than tar and gravel prior to development of the center, he said.

“It was a different community,” he said.

The mayor presented Landress with a road sign with his name on it and Lebovitz a key to the city.

The 11-month mall revamp, only the second in its history, was done mostly at night so stores could stay open.

Alan Lebovitz, CBL’s senior vice president of asset management and a son of the co-founder, said every interior surface of the mall was redone. Carpet and floor tile were upgraded, surfaces were repainted or received wall treatment and wood trim, and entrances, signs and restrooms were refurbished, officials said.

Also, energy efficiency enhancements are estimated to save enough to power 100 homes annually.

“It’s fresh,” Alan Lebovitz said. “It looks new.”

Shoppers said they like the investment in the mall, which CBL said should be essentially 100 percent occupied for the Christmas season.

Derrick Strong, of Rossville, said the stores and renovation help keep him coming back.

  • photo
    Desmond Richardson wraps his arms around Shamon Bush to keep her warm as they wait, first in line, to receive certificates for gift cards and coupons for redemption at the Hamilton Place Mall early Thursday morning at the mall. Hamilton Place celebrated the completion of the multi-million dollar renovation.
    Photo by Jenna Walker /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

“I don’t go down to Dalton,” he said about a mall in that North Georgia city.

Karen Selcer, of Hixson, said it’s important to keep a shopping center and stores upgraded.

“If it doesn’t look like it’s kept up, people are less likely to want to go into any store,” she said.

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger noted CBL recently bought Northgate Mall in Hixson. The company paid $11.5 million in cash for the Highway 153 center in an online auction from General Growth Properties.

“They’re a great corporate citizen,” he said about CBL. “They’ve created a lot of jobs.”

Linda Kenaston, who was “Miss Chamber of Commerce” at the 1987 opening of the mall, said she didn’t think the center would spur so much development.

“This was the start of all the growth,” she said.

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about Mike Pare...

Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...

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ditdahdit said...

Before the recent renovations when I visited Hamilton Place Mall, I always had flashbacks to the 80s and "Hamilton Place Hair". Even the piped in music that included Duran Duran and Cyndi Lauper created a type of time machine. It's hard to believe that CBL with its corporate offices next door would have allowed their "flagship" mall to go this long without investing in its upkeep.

Hopefully at their ceremony yesterday, there wasn't any talk with their political buddies about resurrecting their plan for a special 1% mall tax.

By the way, if you want to see what the roads used to look like before the mall as Littlefield mentioned, take a drive down Igou Gap - if you dare.

November 4, 2011 at 8:23 a.m.
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