Hamilton Place celebrates 30 years this weekend - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hamilton Place celebrates 30 years this weekend

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Farmland that developers turned into Hamilton Place will be 30 years old this weekend. It opened back on August 5, 1987.

The area surrounding the mall and its properties has grown into one of the busiest areas in Hamilton County.

Plots of land, dirt roads, the interstate, and some houses are all that were there 30 years ago.

"Gunbarrel Road was a two lane road at that time. Wouldn't even thought about needing four or five lanes on that road," Bill Bennett, a former Hamilton County commissioner said.

Former Hamilton County commissioner Bill Bennett said not much was around. Then, CBL and Associates bought the property. That would change Chattanooga.

"This was literally farmland. It was considered country for Chattanooga," Kim Lyons, a CBL spokesperson said.

Channel 3 was there when construction began for what would be the largest mall in the state at the time. Opening day brought crowds of people who were curious about the new mall.

"You thought that we was going to have some great things happen in Chattanooga because we had good people trying to make good things happen and they did turn the city around," Bennett said.

Today - the mall and its properties employ more than 17,000 people and generate $400 million each year in sales. That's impacted the local economy in a big way.

"It's caused the economy to evolve into what it is, created all of those thousands of jobs out there, created all of those franchise stores that we got here from somewhere else that we wouldn't have been able to get," Bennett said.

The effects of Hamilton Place have extended to local businesses like Allied Eye. They've been around since 2001.

"It's been quite phenomenal. The number of patients has exploded. Traffic is a little bit more noticeable," Dr. Dennis Matzkin of Allied Eye said.

Officials with Hamilton Place said more is on the way.

H&M is expected to open in late October or early November. CBL bought Sears inside the mall and plans to transform it in the future.

"It could be more entertainment, restaurants, mixed use options for that space eventually," Lyons said.

It went from farmland to more than 200 stores, restaurants, and businesses.

"I'm proud of what we was able to accomplish. Never did think we would be able to do it exactly the way it's happened," Bennett said.

Many have experienced headaches when it comes to traffic near Hamilton Place.

The governor's Improve Act should give some relief on Shallowford Road. That's funded through the gas tax hike that went into effect in July.

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