Belk, Penney's, Sears plan upgrades, Northgate Mall says

Belk, Penney's, Sears plan upgrades, Northgate Mall says

February 16th, 2012 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

Traffic enters Highway 153 from Northgate Mall.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

NORTHGATE MALL

Opened: 1972

Size: 823,000 square feet

Occupants: About 60 specialty shops and restaurants

Sales taxes: Generates about $8 million annually

Source: CBL, Auction.com

Northgate Mall map

Northgate Mall's anchor retailers plan to renovate and enhance their stores, a top official for the shopping center's owner said Wednesday.

A search continues to bring new retail outlets to the Hixson market, said Alan Lebovitz, senior vice president of asset management for CBL & Associates Properties Inc.

"We're meeting with one today that's on the other side of town," said Lebovitz about the Chattanooga-based shopping center developer that bought the mall last fall.

He told a crowded room of Hixson business people and others that he's encouraged the anchors -- Belk, JCPenney and Sears -- want to reinvest in their stores.

"They'll have announcements on that later," Lebovitz said. "These guys aren't closing."

The addition of new retailers to Hixson could include redeveloping parts of the mall itself or a nearby center, according to CBL.

Katie Reinsmidt, CBL's vice president of corporate communications and investor relations, said one proposal could involve putting a "junior anchor" in the mall by replacing space taken by several smaller stores.

She also cited the adjacent center CBL owns, which currently holds the former Carmike movie theater and TJMaxx, as a location for new retailers.

Reinsmidt said there's a less likely concept to redevelop the Sears end of the mall.

"We're working on a lot of things," she said.

Lebovitz dismissed as rumor that CBL will change the mall's name.

But he said the company is looking at reworking some of the smaller store spaces so they have a presence facing the mall's exterior. That will give the stores access and outside signage, the CBL official said.

Lebovitz said CBL "definitely" is looking at improving the appearance of the mall, which the previous owner neglected.

"It's in the hands of a local company," he said. "We're motivated to make improvements."

CBL also owns Hamilton Place mall in East Brainerd, one of the leading regional malls and CBL's flagship property. CBL officials say that Northgate complements Hamilton Place but doesn't compete with it.

CBL bought Northgate from General Growth Properties in an online auction for $11.5 million in cash.

Follow the latest Chattanooga news on Facebook.