Hamilton Place mall and nearby stores draw 16 million people every year, and the shopping center's owners are trying to ensure the visitors come back.
A multimillion-dollar renovation of the mall's interior space and entrances, the first since 1998, will update the center and keep it positioned as the Chattanooga area's No. 1 retail destination, officials said Tuesday.
"Hamilton Place will look different. It will be a major improvement," said Michael Lebovitz, executive vice president of development and administration for mall owner CBL & Associates Properties Inc.
Chattanooga-based CBL's flagship mall will undergo its second major interior renovation since the 1 million-square-foot retail center opened in 1987.
Work is scheduled to begin in March and take eight months. The mall will remain open with most of the changes done during off hours and when the site is closed, Lebovitz said.
Changes will include a redesign of mall entrances, a new logo and updated wood, carpet and tile floors along with a remodeled food court and seating area for 450 people.
A new elevator will go up along with enhanced graphic displays for sponsorship and branding, according to CBL. Lebovitz declined to give the price tag for the renovation.
Charles Lebovitz, CBL's chairman, said the upgrade will help the mall keep drawing the stores to appeal to shoppers.
"We're wanting to put our money where our mouth is," he said.
Officials said the mall continues to draw new retailers, citing White House/Black Market, Forever 21, Sephora and Teavana.
The mall and the surrounding shopping complex generate an estimated $35 million a year in sales tax revenue, said Michael Lebovitz.
"Hamilton Place had a great year in 2010. Sales were up," he said.
Mayor Ron Littlefield said Hamilton Place has been a key part in the city's transformation over the past two decades.
"I'm excited about these plans," he said.
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger said he "recognizes the importance of CBL and what it has meant."
Tom Edd Wilson, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's chief executive, said economic development officials use the mall as a business recruiting tool.
"It appeals to families," he said.
Larry Weeks, who works for renovation designer Stantec, cited the new mall logo that features a green leafy branch growing out of a letter H.
HAMILTON PLACE MALL
* Opened: 1987
* Last remodel: 1998 work included major food court expansion
* Stores: 160 including anchors such as JCPenney, Sears, Belk and Dillards
* Restaurants: 30 inside and outside mall
* Employees: 3,000
Source: CBL & Associates Properties Inc.
"Now, the mall has grown roots" in the community, he said.
Shoppers Jamie and Kristy Weaver, of LaFayette, Ga., said the renovation will help the mall, though they didn't think it is especially needed.
"This place is busy all the time," Kristy Weaver said.
CBL, one of the nation's biggest mall and shopping center developers, also Tuesday announced renovations at RiverGate Mall in Nashville, Burnsville Center in Burnsville, Minn., and Oak Park Mall in Kansas City, Kan.
Contact Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318.