HAMILTON PLACE (MALL)
Gunbarrel Road and Hamilton Place Boulevard
Chattanooga, Tennessee

CBL & Associates, Incorporated came into being in 1978. The Chattanooga-based company was formed by five executives from the shopping center division of New York City's Arlen Realty & Development Corporation. In 1993, the CBL concern was reincorporated as CBL & Associates Properties, Incorporated; a tax-sheltered Real Estate Investment Trust.

The first CBL-built shopping mall, Del Rio, Texas's PLAZA DEL SOL, had been dedicated in March 1979. By 1982, the corporation was in the process of acquiring 210 acres located 8 miles east of Chattanooga's CBD. The land had been annexed into the City of Chattanooga in 1968 and was adjacent to the Interstate 75 expressway.

Plans were soon underway for a five-anchor superregional shopping center with 2 levels of retail and over 100 inline stores. Construction of the HAMILTON PLACE mall was originally scheduled to get underway in 1984, but was delayed until 1986.

Anchoring the fully-enclosed complex would be a 2-level (130,800 square foot), Chattanooga-based Loveman's of Tennessee, 2-level (128,800 square foot), Charlotte-based Belk and 2-level (92,500 square foot), Birmingham-based Parisian.

The 180 million dollar HAMILTON PLACE was officially dedicated August 5, 1987. Encompassing approximately 710,500 leasable square feet, the center housed over 140 stores and services. Among these were Dawahare's, County Seat, J. Riggings, Regis Hairstylists, Bombay Company, a Ruby Tuesday restaurant and Morrison's Cafeteria.  

Fast-food-type eateries were located in The Oasis, an 11-bay Food Court. This culinary complex included Manchu Wok, Taco Bell, Cheeseburger Charlie's and Boardwalk Fries.

The other major shopping venues in Chattanooga were EASTGATE CENTER / MALL (1962) {4 miles southwest, in Chattanooga} and NORTHGATE MALL (1972) {7 miles northwest, also in Chattanooga}. The EASTGATE complex was quickly outpositioned by the newer and larger HAMILTON PLACE. The NORTHGATE property persevered.

Knoxville-based Miller's had announced plans for a 2-level (115,000 square foot) HAMILTON PLACE store. However, in June 1987, the chain was acquired (via hostile takeover) by Allentown, Pennsylvania-based Hess's. When the store opened, on July 27, 1988, it sported a Hess's nameplate.

Alcoa, Tennessee-based Proffitt's bought the Loveman's of Tennessee chain in May 1988 and rebranded all stores, as Proffitt's, later in the year. 

The basic footprint of HAMILTON PLACE was completed in 1988, with a 2-level (151,500 square foot) Sears and United Artists Hamilton Place Cinemas (a 9-screen venue). The mall now encompassed approximately 1,006,800 leasable square feet. It surpassed West Tennessee's 885,600 square foot MALL OF MEMPHIS, becoming the largest shopping mall in the Volunteer State.

HAMILTON PLACE grew even larger with the completion of a sixth anchor store. A 2-level (157,700 square foot) J.C. Penney served its first customers February 28, 1992. The mall now spanned approximately 1,164,500 leasable square feet.

The year 1993 brought the reconfiguration of 2 anchor stores. Tennessee Hess's stores were acquired by Proffitt's in October 1992. Proffitt's already had a store in operation at the mall. It was converted to a Proffitt's for Women, with the newly-acquired Hess's becoming a Proffitt's For Men, Kids & Home store. 

1998 was also a year of much change. A face lift of the mall's interior got underway in January 1998 and was completed in September. New flooring, seating areas, landscaping and handicapped access were installed. The Food Court was also expanded by 6,000 square feet. A refurbished mall entrance accessed new Big Apple Diner, Software, Etc. and Atlanta Bread Company stores.

The Belk and Dillard's chains performed a store swap in July 1998; this being a manifestation of Dillard's acquisition of the Mercantile Stores holding company. Dillard's would trade 7 Gayfer's and J.B. White locations for 9 Belk stores. Hence, the Belk at HAMILTON PLACE became a Dillard's.

West Tennessee's WOLFCHASE GALLERIA opened, in February 1997, with 1,267,000 leasable square feet. It bumped HAMILTON PLACE down to the second-largest mall in Tennessee position. Knoxville's WEST TOWN MALL completed a major expansion in November 1998. 

This center, which now encompassed 1,330,000 leasable square feet, moved into the largest shopping mall in Tennessee position. HAMILTON PLACE was now the state's third-largest.

There wouldn't be any major changes at HAMILTON PLACE until Belk acquired the Proffitt's chain, in mid-2005. The Proffitt's for Women was rebranded as a Belk Women's, with the Proffitt's Men, Kids & Home store becoming a Belk Men, Home & Kids. Store nameplate changes were completed on March 8, 2006.

Continuing on their buyout bonanza, Belk absorbed the Parisian chain in August 2006. With 2 stores already in operation at HAMILTON PLACE, Belk shuttered the Parisian operation in February 2007. It re-opened, as a Dillard's Men, Kids & Home, in the summer of 2007. The existing Dillard's was refashioned into a Dillard's Women's. 

In September 2007, the mall's cinema, operating under the Regal banner since 1991, was shuttered. The building was demolished and replaced with a 1-level (29,700 square foot) Barnes & Noble, which made its debut November 12, 2008. 

Belk performed a 4 million dollar remodeling of their HAMILTON PLACE stores between May and October 2010. The Men, Home & Kids store was downsized into a (57,500 square foot) Belk Men & Home, which occupied the lower level of the building. Children's merchandise was incorporated into the Belk Women's. The vacant upper level of the Belk Men & Home was leased to Los Angeles-based Forever 21, who opened for business March 16, 2011.

A second HAMILTON PLACE renovation was performed between March and November 2011. Flooring and signage were replaced, surfaces painted, and restrooms refurbished. As with the 1998 renovation, a new mall logo was commissioned. The shopping hub now encompassed 1,170,700 leasable square feet with a tenant list of 147 stores and services.

Sources:

Southern Accent / September 3, 1987 / "Hamilton Place Mall Becomes A Favorite Place for Students" / Gene Krushinger
http://mallmanac.blogspot.com   
The Morning Call
The Chattanooga News-Free Press
www.chattanooga.com
nreonline.com (National Real Estate Investor)
www.cblproperties.com
www.cinematreasures.org
"Hamilton Place Mall" article on Wikipedia