Cars come and go from Hamilton Place mall in Chattanooga, Tenn., Monday, July 24, 2017. Hamilton Place will be 30 years old this August.
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Saying the growth of the Hamilton Place mall area has exceeded expectations, top CBL & Associates Properties Inc. executives joined with public officials today to mark the shopping center's 30th year.

"We look forward to more success in the future," said Stephen Lebovitz, chief executive of the Chattanooga-based development company that built the mall to a crowd of more than 100 people who turned out for the event.

Lebovitz cited future potential redevelopment plans of the Sears store that CBL has purchased and the nearby parking lot where he sees restaurant and entertainment uses with possible offices and a hotel.

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Chattanooga, termed CBL Chairman Charles Lebovitz and his family "visionaries" as they saw the potential of the mall that opened in 1987.

"I remember when this was barren land," he said. "This is today outstanding."

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger mentioned the economic impact of the mall and the stores, offices, and other businesses which have sprouted up around the center.

He said sales taxes generated by the mall area go toward financing public education.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke said that when the mall opened, "this changed everything" in the East Brainerd area.

Building the center took courage, he said.

"Today it looks like a no-brainer, but then it wasn't assured," Berke said.

See more in Saturday's Times Free Press.