Belk modernizing southern style, revamping store at Chattanooga's Northgate Mall

Belk modernizing southern style, revamping store at Chattanooga's Northgate Mall

May 20th, 2012 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

The cosmetics counters just inside the mall entrance of the Belk store at Northgate Mall will be moved during major changes that are ahead for the store, including a new children's store, consolidation of the "home" store now operating in a different mall space, and a complete interior makeover after Memorial Day.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Northgate Mall Belk store manager Martin Nobles

Northgate Mall Belk store manager Martin Nobles

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Belk is undergoing the biggest renovation of its Northgate Mall store since the late 1990s, according to the company.

The $3.5 million revamp will include adding 7,000 square feet of space for its kids shop near the store's main entrance.

At the same time, Belk will shift its 22,000-square-foot home shop from the other end of the Hixson mall to inside the main 113,000-square-foot store.

Although the combination will reduce Belk's footprint at Northgate by more than 10 percent, Belk store manager Martin Nobles said the work will increase "ease of shopability."

He said plans are to take some back-office space in the main store to enlarge the shopping space and offer expanded merchandise, including new brands and shoe styles, accessories and fashion apparel.

"It will be an opportunity to expand our assortments," Nobles said.

In addition, the store will feature new restrooms and fitting rooms, updated display fixtures, tile flooring, and ceilings along with energy-efficient lighting, according to the Charlotte, N.C.-based company.

Work on the kids shop, which takes up space formerly held by a Dollar Store and mall security, already has started. The shop is expected to open in June, Nobles said.

Belk, which will remain open during the renovation, plans to complete all the work inside the 104-employee store by October, he said.

Nobles said the changes at the store will highlight Belk's slogan of "Modern. Southern. Style." The store will offer an extended selection of jewelry, cosmetics and other goods, according to Belk.

"The full-store renovation will provide customers with a modern retail layout, decor and merchandise presentation," Nobles said.

This is Belk's second major renovation in the Chattanooga market in three years. In 2010, Belk spent $4 million to update its Hamilton Place locations.

Belk re-entered the Chattanooga market about seven years ago through its acquisition of Proffitt's.

Chattanooga-based CBL & Associates Properties Inc. bought Northgate Mall from General Growth Properties in an online auction for $11.5 million in cash in September 2011.

Katie Reinsmidt, vice president of corporate communications and investor relations for CBL, said space made available by the shifting of Belk's home shop will help CBL as it moves forward in its plans for the mall.

Reinsmidt said CBL is making headway in its plans for the shopping center, though nothing is finalized.

The company has said it is searching to bring new retail outlets to the Hixson market and looking at reworking some of the smaller store spaces so they have a presence facing the mall's exterior.

Alan Lebovitz, senior vice president of asset management for CBL, told a Hixson group earlier this year that the company is "