Center court is quite lush with vegetation and has a quite elegant looking skylight over it. I have to wonder how much of this is original.
While the mall dwarfs in comparison with Hamilton Place, apparently Chattanooga is a city that needs and can support two malls. Northgate is not the kind of draw that Hamilton Place is, but its location in the center of a significant suburban area north of the Tennessee River gives it plenty of business. In fact, the strip along SR 153 is one of the most congested areas in the city, and the mall is much more convenient to US 27/Corridor J than Hamilton Place.
Two scenes along the mall concourse. The second photo with the lush vegetation features the mall's Chick-Fil-A on the left, which is not part of the very small food court.
Northgate is basically an I-shaped mall with an anchor in the middle attached, JCPenney. The courts are small with high ceilings and full of trees and plants. The mall has a small food court attached to the Belk Home Store and the mall also has a Piccadilly Cafeteria from the older era. The mall also has a few businesses outside the mall with only exterior entrances. In additoin, the Belk Home Store has two mall entrances and is essentially a junior anchor using existing in-line mall space.
Sears entrance court.
Northgate Mall first appeared in 1972 as Chattanooga's first enclosed mall. It was originally built by CBL, which is headquartered in Chattanooga. CBL still operates Hamilton Place Mall, but has since sold Northgate. Northgate was also expanded in 1991 and renovated in 1997. The 1991 expansion was most likely for the food court and Hess's/Proffitt's Home Store. The anchor lineup would have been pretty static if not of the numerous anchor changes of one of the department stores. While Sears and Penney's are both original anchors, the western end was originally anchored by Miller Bros. Co of Chattanooga. Miller Brothers became Miller's of Tennessee in 1973. In 1988, Miller's was sold to Hess's and the store later became Proffitt's in 1992. Proffitt's sold out to Belk in 2006, which resulted in both the Proffitt's and Proffitt's Home Store taking on the Belk name.
Looking at the Belk (Proffitt's, Hess's, Miller's) mall entrance. The Belk sign looks very much like an afterthought with the store having three other identities. The marble facade is original, however. The last photo is looking back from Belk/Miller's at the court and play area. Like many late 60's/early 70's malls, each anchor had a small court with it in the mall including at least one side hallway to an outside entrance.
My impressions of Northgate Mall is that is was a reasonably attractive, busy and well maintained mall. However, with my love of oddities and angles in malls I found its layout rather boring. I think at least a unique fountain in the center court would have been a plus for the mall as well as some far more elaborate ceiling decor. While the inside of the mall is pleasant, the outside of the mall looks pretty dated. The Belk has one of the ugliest department store designs I believe I have ever seen. It's dark brick and weird entryway remind me of the outside of a prison. Inside, though, the store is quite attractive. JCPenney looks like a giant space station. Sears is the most basic store with a fairly typical early 70's design. I think I would have liked the mall a bit better if somewhere in the mall it dropped down into a small lower level like the one I ran across at Greenbriar Mall.
If this is supposed to be a food court, it is the most pitiful excuse for one. A couple restaurants and other businesses operate here in this mid-mall side jog between Penney's and Sears. This is also where the second entrance to the Belk/Proffitt's Home Store is located.
In all, though, this is in my opinion Chattanooga's real mall today. This is the one for the city and the one with more history. The people out of Northwest Georgia and East Tennessee will fight the crowds for Hamilton Place, but the mall to me looks to be for people who actually live there and don't want to fight traffic to look for something in a picked over mall. It is also a manageable mall compared to the overload of anchors at Hamilton Place that ended up with two Belks and two Dillard's. With that, they are bound to be appreciative of Northgate. They are lucky to have it, because similar size cities such as Augusta, GA now have only one mall for their entire city after their second mall died away.
A couple views of the Belk Home Store from the mall. The first is taken along the main mall concourse and the second is in the food court wing.
JCPenney mall entrance is located directly off the center court.
Another view of center court, this time looking toward Sears instead of Belk.
Walking out of the side entrance next to Sears approaching Piccadilly. Piccadilly has been here since the mall opened.
An outside view of all the anchors as they look today. All three anchors are very stark forms of brutalism, especially the hideous Belk/Miller's. Miller's mall stores were notoriously stark and bland. JCPenney looks like some sort of pseudo factory. Sears is plain and simple.
Below are some photos of Proffitt's from 2005:
The Proffitt's sign really looks bad on this cell-like brick exterior. The Home Store was obviously a later idea, judging by its green sign vs. the old Miller's. Proffitt's stores opened in the 1990's and 00's had a green sign.