CBL & Associates Properties Inc. officials said today the company plans to sell off about 21 of its shopping centers to boost operating income and upgrade its remaining properties.

Stephen Lebovitz, the Chattanooga-based company’s chief executive, said during a conference call on its outlook that it plans to dispose of the properties within the next 24 to 36 months. He did not identify the centers.

The company that owns both Hamilton Place mall and Northgate Mall in Chattanooga aims to upgrade its overall portfolio and generate more from its upper tier properties, he said. The money from the sales will be used for redevelopment and expansion opportunities.

“Today, we have outlined initiatives that are designed to increase our portfolio weighting to higher-productivity assets,” Lebovitz said in a statement. “We will pursue these opportunities to create value within our existing portfolio through redevelopment and expansion, as well as through new developments and selective acquisitions. We are committed to prudently executing this transformation in a manner that maximizes shareholder value.”

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