published Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Hamilton Place owner buys Chattanooga's Northgate Mall

Patrons enter Hixson's Northgate Mall on Tuesday. The announcement that the mall will be sold came the same day. The buyer is CBL and Associates.
Patrons enter Hixson's Northgate Mall on Tuesday. The announcement that the mall will be sold came the same day. The buyer is CBL and Associates.
Photo by Tim Barber.
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NORTHGATE MALL


• Opened: 1972

• Size: 823,000 square feet

• Occupants: About 60 specialty shops and restaurants

• Renovations: 1991, 1997

• Leased space: 91 percent (includes outparcels)

Source: Auction.com

With Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates Properties Inc.'s agreement to buy Northgate Mall for $11.5 million in cash, company co-founder Charles Lebovitz is coming full circle.

He said Thursday that another company with which his family was affiliated developed Northgate Mall in 1972 on what he recalled had been a cornfield.

"It had a terrific opening," Lebovitz said about the Highway 153 and Hixson Pike mall. "Personally, I actually signed every lease for every store that went into Northgate. I have a real close affinity to Northgate."

That being said, CBL's chairman added that the new Northgate deal makes financial sense for CBL.

"Honestly, the economics of the purchase were very compelling," he said.

CBL, one of the biggest mall and shopping center companies in the country and the owner of Hamilton Place, bought Northgate from General Growth Properties in an online auction Wednesday.

According to the Hamilton County Assessor of Property, Northgate Mall is appraised at $30.1 million. Charles Lebovitz said CBL's agreement to buy the mall includes assuming no debt.

CBL anticipates closing the deal by Oct. 6, and company officials said they plan to breathe new life into the mall.

  • photo
    Northgate Mall map

Stephen Lebovitz, CBL's chief executive and Charles Lebovitz' son, said plans may include the addition of junior anchor stores, restaurants and repurposing a nearby community center.

"This transaction represents a unique and special opportunity for us to grow our presence in our hometown," he said.

CBL officials said the company envisions creating a destination that will better serve the area north of the Tennessee River while complementing Hamilton Place's position as the dominant fashion outlet in the city.

"It will be a more important part of the Chattanooga retail market," Charles Lebovitz said.

The mall has anchor stores in Belk, JCPenney and Sears. CBL's chairman said a Belk official indicated recently its store is experiencing double-digit sales growth in 2011.

The senior Lebovitz also said Northgate and Hamilton Place are viewed differently in the market.

Hamilton Place, with more than 1 million square feet and located off Interstate 75, is seen as one of the leading regional malls and a flagship property, he said. Northgate complements Hamilton Place but doesn't compete with it, he said.

While there aren't any plans to remodel Northgate at this time, "that will come about" as the property is redeveloped and gains new stores, he said.

The mall was built in 1972 by Arlen Shopping Center Group and is currently 91 percent leased. Chicago-based GGP acquired the mall in 2000, but filed for bankruptcy in 2009.

CBL owns, holds interests in or manages 158 properties nationally.

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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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BravesDave said...

My father did all of the land surveying work on the site back in '72. He surveyed all of the properties that were developed by Arlen Realty Development and various subsidiaries. They were a New York based company that folded and several of the principals founded CBL & Associates. Good memories. I began to learn to survey on that jobsite as a 13-year old.

September 23, 2011 at 12:46 a.m.
mrredskin said...

awesome, dave...

it's in definite need of some facelifting (esp JC penny), but always used to be a convenient place to go if you're anywhere from red bank up through rhea and bledsoe.

September 23, 2011 at 7:56 a.m.
carebearsmom said...

I am glad someone local purchased the mall and that it will stay open. It is so convenient to have it close to people on this side of the river. And if they add some additional types of stores, it should attract more customers.

September 23, 2011 at 5:30 p.m.
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