Construction workers begin redevelopment of the former Sears location at Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Monday, March 25, 2019. Construction site fencing wraps around the outside of the location.
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Fencing has been placed around the former Sears location at Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Monday, March 25, 2019. Redevelopment of the location has begun.

The biggest-ever revamp at Hamilton Place mall has started, with demolition underway at the former Sears store to make it ready for new retail, restaurant and office space.

"The auto center will be demolished and the rest of the building will be repurposed," said Stacey Keating of mall owner CBL Properties about the multimillion-dollar work at the two-level, 150,000-square-foot Sears site.


Among additions to the Sears space and parking lots at Hamilton Place mall:

* Dick’s Sporting Goods

* Dave & Buster’s

* Cheesecake Factory

* Aloft Hotel by Marriott

* Offices

* Another restaurant

Source: CBL Properties

Exterior work related to the demolition will start in the next two to three weeks, she said.

"We'll be doing work on the exterior of the building in the next month and that work will be ongoing," Keating said.

The lower level of the former Sears will partially hold a new Dick's Sporting Goods, which is moving across Gunbarrel Road to the Sears site, she said.

Also, a Dave & Buster's restaurant and entertainment complex will go on the upper level, Keating said.

In addition, the building will hold office space, she said.

In the parking lots around the building, Keating said a new restaurant is to open in a standalone building much like The Cheesecake Factory, which was the first part of the redevelopment of Sears and the area near it.

A 135-room Aloft Hotel by Marriott also is to go up near the Sears store.

Sears filed for bankruptcy in October after years of trying to compete against online retailers, discount chains and boutique stores. But at Hamilton Place, CBL in 2017 had bought the Sears space from the retailer with an eye toward redeveloping the property.

The 1.2 million-square-foot mall, which last year marked its 31st year, continues as the area's retail powerhouse, drawing an estimated 2 million people annually to the center and nearby stores.

But CBL Chief Executive Officer Stephen Lebovitz has said the company, which holds 67 malls nationwide, is focusing less on its sites as conventional malls and more as town centers.

He said the company's product "has had to be transformed to be competitive and stay relevant and successful."

When malls were built, there was a fairly standard pattern of putting in anchor stores and building a ring road with parking lots, Lebovitz said.

"Now, we're blowing that model up," he said. "That doesn't mean there's no room for specialty and department stores but it also includes beverage, entertainment, fitness and things like that."

The new Dick's store will occupy nearly 46,000 square feet, permits show.

Keating said the structure won't be turned over to Dick's until late this year or early next. The Dave & Buster's space will be ready for it to do its interior work late this year, though it's likely next year before it opens, she said.

"There's a lot of work to be done to update the building and get it ready for new tenants," Keating added.

She said there are a few spaces available for redevelopment related to the Sears project, and CBL is pursuing a couple of different options.

"It's about delivering the experience our customers are looking for," Keating said.

Contact staff writer Mike Pare at or 423-757-6318. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.