New businesses at Hamilton Place Mall adds more congestion
In a couple of months, the doors will close at the Sears store at Hamilton Place and new businesses will move in. With all the development, there will be more foot traffic on the south side of the mall.
The holiday frenzy is about a week away and malls across America will be flooded with shoppers hoping to score some deals.
"Oh it's crazy, people come from everywhere," said Jenny Varner, Shopper.
The shopping mecca at Hamilton Place Mall is getting even larger, new businesses are moving in and new construction seems to be never-ending. The development is a part of a larger plan to get people off their computers and back into brick and mortar stores.
"We're really trying to transition our properties from a traditional enclosed mall into a suburban town center that incorporates a wider variety of uses," said Stacey Keating, Hamilton Place/CBL Spokesperson.
Dave & Busters will move into the second floor of Sears when it closes in late January and new restaurants and retailers will move in below.
Outside, the Cheesecake Factory is opening next month and there are plans to build a 145-room boutique style hotel.
Shoppers are excited for new options, but not the additional traffic in an already congested area.
"The traffic pattern was designed when it was designed years ago so definitely stepping up and expanding it making it more accessible," Varner said.
City officials said they are working on plans to improve the traffic pattern around the mall to ease traffic and make it safer for drivers.
"Shallowford Road is extremely challenging from a traffic standpoint right now because it's the only option for people that live in the East Brainerd community that want to access Gunbarrel Road, that want to access the other communities that are out there both on the west side of the highway and the east side of the highway," Blythe Bailey, with the Chattanooga Department of Transportation, said. "So, as with any part of the city, the more options you have for how you can move around, the safer it is."
The city is seeking ideas from engineering firms for services related to modifying Hamilton Place Boulevard near the mall to accommodate the state's Interstate 75 interchange work. The project will add direct access from I-75 southbound to Hamilton Place Boulevard.
Officials said the city's local connector piece for the mall has to be done before TDOT's interchange work. That I-75 project is being funded directly through the governor's Improve Act. They estimate that work is expected to begin in the summer of 2019.
Dave & Busters is a restaurant and arcade. In other cities, the business has been the site for criminal activity. However, some shoppers don't believe the business is to blame, Varner has had positive experiences at other locations and thinks it will be good for the area.
"Having an outlet for that age group to have fun in a controlled environment would be good because they need something to do," she said.
In the past, police have responded to a riot and multiple shootings at Hamilton Place Mall, which have have resulted in more police patrol the area by uniform and undercover offciers. The company also enforces the youth escort policy in common areas of the mall. However, a spokesperson said, it will be up to Dave & Busters to develop their own plan.
"Dave & Busters will handle their operations and if they have a policy, something similar that hey would want to put in place that would be up to them," Keating said.
Customers believe the new business is good for a side of the mall that has typically been slow.
"It represents that the city is growing and that the economy is booming and that's a good thing," Varner said.