Jonathan Heller leaves Chattanooga-based CBL’s board, David Contis named chairman

Staff photo by Olivia Ross / The CBL & Associates Center is located on Hamilton Place Boulevard in Chattanooga. Two buildings make up the property.

CBL Properties on Wednesday announced that Jonathan Heller is resigning as chairman of the board of the Chattanooga-based shopping center operator.

Heller notified the company that he is stepping down as chairman, effective Wednesday, to focus time and energy on building his new investment firm, Helix Partners, according to CBL. Heller joined CBL's board in October 2021 and became chairman in November in conjunction with CBL's successful restructuring.

"We are immensely grateful to Jonathan for his leadership and service to the company," said Stephen D. Lebovitz, director and chief executive of CBL, in a statement. "As a leading voice for CBL's creditors during our restructuring process, Jonathan exhibited an unwavering commitment to working with CBL to create a sustainable financial structure for the company's future. As chairman, Jonathan continued these efforts and provided important guidance to management and the board. CBL now enjoys a strong financial position, including a low-leverage balance sheet, which primarily consists of non-recourse mortgage debt, as well as a robust cash position and healthy free cash-flow generation."

CBL's current lead independent director, David Contis, has been appointed as board chairman, according to CBL. Contis has extensive real estate and capital markets experience, having served as president of the mall platform for Simon Property Group, president of real estate for Sam Zell's Equity Group Investments and executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Macerich Co., CBL said. Contis is founder and president of Agora Advisors Inc., which provides consulting services to real estate and retail companies in North and South America.

Lebovitz said that since joining the board in late 2021, Contis' experience and counsel have served as a valuable resource to management and the board.

"He is perfectly suited to step into the role of chairman, and I, along with the other directors, look forward to working with him in this capacity," he said.

CBL's owned and managed portfolio is comprised of 94 properties totaling 58.5 million square feet across 22 states, including Hamilton Place and Northgate malls in Chattanooga.

– Compiled by Mike Pare