Hixson shopping center sells for $14 million

Contributed by Killette Communications / Northtowne Centre sits off Highway 153 in Hixson and holds a variety of retail stores.

A South Florida company that likes Chattanooga's economy has bought a high-profile shopping center in Hixson that holds such tenants as Hobby Lobby and Ashley HomeStore Outlet.

Northtowne Centre, a 257,744-square-foot retail center on Highway 153, was purchased for $14 million by Coastal Equities of Weston, Florida, according to a commercial real estate firm that arranged the sale.

Bryan Belk of Franklin Street said the city "seems to be doing well" economically. He cited Chattanooga's attraction of high-tech firms and noted the region's automotive sector.

Also, Belk said that many of the shopping center's tenants remained open during the coronavirus lock down early in 2020. He said the buyer wants to know "during the worst economic stress test how tenants performed."

"They want them to be open, operating and successful and being able to afford the rent," said Belk.

According to Franklin Street, Northtowne Centre is 96.2% occupied. Other tenants include American Freight & Mattress, Staples, Dollar Tree, Stockdale's, Great Clips and others.

The property also has outparcels for Waffle House, McDonald's and Firestone Complete Auto Care, which were not included in the transaction but provide additional traffic for the center, officials said.

Northtowne Centre, which formerly held a Walmart before that store relocated about a mile away, is situated within a trade area that sees 45,295 vehicles per day along Highway 153 and serves more than 140,000 residents within a 7-mile radius, according to Franklin Street.

"This asset is well-positioned with the types of tenants that continue to perform well, including furniture, hobby items, lawn care and livestock feed, and discount retailers," Belk said.

John Tennant of Franklin Street, who also aided in the deal, said that motivated buyers who are willing to move quickly on assets are currently benefiting from attractive pricing along with historically low interest rates.

He said that helps provide strong risk-adjusted returns for retail centers.

According to the Hamilton County Assessor of Property's office, the center was built about 1990 and encompasses about 10 acres. It was sold by Mimms Investments of Roswell, Georgia.

Hixson has seen and is undergoing an array of new developments, particularly off Highway 153.

A 90-room TownePlace Suites is to start going up soon at 5248 Highway 153 near Northgate Mall on a site that for many years held a Pep Boys auto shop, according to Chattanooga hotel company Dynamic Group. The shop was torn down last year at the tract, where another developer is putting a Chipotle restaurant on part of the parcel.

Outside the mall, a Chattanooga developer is opening a new retail complex that will hold an expanded Panera restaurant. Developer Bassam Issa bought the former Firestone auto center, which moved to Northtowne Centre, and also built space for Buddy's bar-b-q and Bluff City Soap.

In addition, Clint Wolford of Wolford Development in Chattanooga has started work on a site that's to hold a new shopping center where Holcomb Garden Center operated for many years.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.