Northgate Mall hunts for big-box stores

Northgate Mall hunts for big-box stores

January 26th, 2012 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

CBL and Associates Properties Inc. owns Northgate Mall in Hixson and is making plans about the site's future.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Northgate Mall could land more big-box retailers as its Chattanooga-based owner fashions plans to renew the key Hixson shopping center.

"It's finding the right mix," said Katie Reinsmidt, vice president of corporate communications and investor relations for CBL & Associates Properties Inc.

Big boxes refer to physically large retail sites, which are usually part of a chain. CBL officials are looking at new big-box stores for both the enclosed mall itself and an adjacent strip center to go with its small shops, Reinsmidt said.

The strip center, that formerly included a movie theater, now houses just a T.J. Maxx and a Catherines store.

"Boxes would make a lot of sense," she said, adding an announcement could come soon.

Inside the mall building itself, CBL officials are eyeing the consolidation of smaller spaces which could hold a big box, Reinsmidt said.

"It's absorbing existing square footage," said the CBL official.

CBL, one of the nation's largest mall and shopping center companies, bought the 40-year-old Northgate property late last year from General Growth Properties for $11.5 million. CBL officials have said the company envisions creating a destination better serving the area north of the Tennessee River while complementing its Hamilton Place mall as the dominant fashion outlet in the city.

Northgate is not on a recent list of malls CBL announced it plans to renovate this year.

Reinsmidt said some work to its Northgate Mall properties could be done as part of redeveloping its holdings there.

However, she said, the time frame is open-ended as much depends on retailers.

"It depends on getting through their real estate committees," Reinsmidt said. "Real estate never moves quickly."

Some Northgate shoppers said they're looking forward to mall improvements.

Joyce Buffat, of Red Bank, said she doesn't go to the Hamilton Place area because of the traffic and she'd like to see more shopping options at Northgate Mall.

"It needs more tenants," she said.

James Downs, of Harrison, said more big stores would work at Northgate.

"I think it would be a big hit," he said.

Reinsmidt said CBL also is examining other mall improvements, including its restaurant mix.

"We're talking to a lot of different restaurant operators," she said.