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Staff File Photo by Matt Hamilton / Visitors enter the Hamilton Place mall earlier this summer. Mall owner CBL Properties says business is rebounding.

CBL Properties on Monday elevated several executives as the Chattanooga-based shopping center company aims to turn the page on its bankruptcy on Nov. 1 and open a new chapter.

"A lot of people recognized have been with the company and worked hard over the last year-and-a-half and before," said Stephen Lebovitz, CBL's chief executive officer, about the promotions.

CBL, the owner of Hamilton Place and Northgate malls in Chattanooga and more than 100 centers nationwide, was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic early in 2020 and filed for bankruptcy protection last November.

Two people were promoted Monday to executive vice president posts and six to senior vice president slots. Also, eight new vice presidents were named.

Lebovitz said in a telephone interview that the company is moving toward exiting bankruptcy on Nov. 1 and putting the organization in place so CBL is in "the strongest position to go forward."

He said all of those named Monday work at CBL's home office, where the company employs about 220 people among some 500 workers nationally.

Lebovitz said the mood at CBL is positive.

"I'm energized," he said. "It's a combination of getting closer to Nov. 1 and seeing how business has recovered."

The CBL chief executive said company officials are seeing a resurgence at its malls both in traffic and sales.

"Retailers are in a stronger position," he said.

As CBL closes in on exiting bankruptcy, Lebovitz said the pricing of its publicly traded shares is being determined in talks with its financial advisers.

He said he's expecting CBL will return to a listing on the New York Stock Exchange at some point. Currently, the company's shares are traded over the counter.

In August, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge David R. Jones in Houston confirmed the company's plan moving ahead that erases more than $1.6 billion in debt. Bondholders are to receive 89% of the newly reorganized CBL and shareholders 11%.

Of that 11%, existing common and preferred stakeholders are to split the equity equally, according to the plan.

Lebovitz said officials were nervous about the emergence of the coronavirus' Delta variant. But back to school shopping was strong and the most recent retail numbers nationally were better than expected, he said.

Still, Alexander Goldfarb, a senior analyst for Piper Sandler, said recently that he expects retail malls and shopping centers will continue to close.

"The successful centers will remain open," he said. "What you'll see is consolidation."

Malls take a lot of capital to fix up, Goldfarb said.

CBL officials have said they plan to bring new uses into its properties and broaden the mix of what its customers want, such as what it has done at Hamilton Place Mall.

"We're getting more interest from some of the non-traditional users," Lebovitz said. For example, he cited the multi-family residential market.

Promotions announced Monday included:

* Andrew Cobb was promoted to executive vice president – accounting after serving as senior vice president and director – accounting since February 2015. Cobb joined the organization in June 2002 as vice president.

* Howard Grody was promoted to executive vice president – leasing after serving as senior vice president – leasing, a position he has held since 2008. Grody joined CBL in 1991 as a leasing manager and was promoted to vice president – mall leasing in 2000.

* Rusty Carlton was promoted to senior vice president – accounting after serving as vice president since February 2016. Carlton joined CBL in 2008 as a property accountant focused on joint venture projects.

* Maggie Carrington was promoted to senior vice president – people & culture after serving as vice president since 2009. Carrington Joined CBL in 1999.

* Jeff Gregerson was promoted to senior vice president – specialty leasing after serving as vice president since 2002. Gregerson joined CBL in 1994.

* Eric Griffith was promoted to senior vice president – leasing after serving as vice president, a position he has held since February 2016. Griffith joined CBL in 2004.

* Mary Lynn Morse was promoted to senior vice president – marketing after serving as vice president since 2019. Morse joined CBL in 1995.

* David Neuhoff was promoted to senior vice president – redevelopment after serving as vice president, a position he has held since 2011. Neuhoff joined CBL in 1998.

* Heidi Cardall was promoted to vice president – specialty leasing after most recently serving as senior director. Cardall joined CBL in 1998.

* Lisa Harper was promoted to vice president – specialty leasing after most recently serving as senior director. Harper joined CBL with the acquisition of Richland Mall in Waco, Texas, in 2002.

* Sandy Heymann was promoted to vice president – marketing after most recently serving as senior director. Heymann joined the CBL team when Fayette Mall in Lexington, Kentucky, was acquired in February 2001.

* Lewis Hilton was promoted to vice president – redevelopment after most recently serving as senior director. Hilton joined CBL as a leasing manager in 1999.

* Matt Holligan was promoted to vice president – management after serving as senior director since 2020. Holligan joined CBL in 2001.

* Allison Houghton was promoted to vice president – accounting after most recently serving as senior director. Houghton joined CBL in 2016 as director – accounting.

* Stacey Keating was promoted to vice president – corporate communications after serving as senior director since 2019. Keating joined CBL in 2011 as a regional marketing specialist at Monroeville Mall and relocated to CBL's corporate office in 2015.

* Tripp Wingo was promoted to vice president – accounting. Wingo joined CBL in 2017 as a senior financial reporting analyst and in 2019 was promoted to director.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

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