By Jack Stubbs
Northgate—a neighborhood in North Seattle, roughly seven miles north of the city’s Central Business District—has in recent months been garnering increasing interest from developers looking to capitalize on opportunities in the expanding submarket. A re-envisioning of the Northgate Mall—a retail destination which originally opened in 1950—has been in the works for the last several decades: the mall was expanded in 1965, but efforts made by DeBartolo Properties in the 1980s for further expansion of the retail complex were unsuccessful.
Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, however, has been making strides with a large-scale overall of Northgate Mall, ever since the developer started renovating the property in 2005. At a recent Recommendation Meeting held for the project on June 3rd, Simon Property Group received largely positive feedback regarding various design elements of the project, further advancing it along in the city’s design review process.
The multi-phased development process for the project—located at 401 NE Northgate Way and comprising approximately 33 acres of the existing 55-acre Northgate Mall site—requires four separate master use permits (MUPs) and several separate rounds of reviews before developer Simon Property Group can break ground.
The 1.3 million square foot mixed-use development will ultimately consist of approximately 1,205 residential units approved through the Master Use Permit (MUP) process; overall, the development will also include approximately 596,600 square feet of retail on the site, approximately 768,800 square feet of office space and 372 hotel units across two hotels within the master-planned development site. The project also include a total of 5,346 parking stalls and approximately 342,000 total square feet of public open space, according to the submitted project plans.
At the meeting held on June 3rd (which was the third Recommendation Meeting held for the Northgate Mall project), the project team, also comprised of urban planning and architecture firm GGLO, CallisonRTKL and Civil Engineer KPFF, received feedback from the board about its project plans, further advancing in the design process the team’s plans for the hotel and office components of the project, according to project planner Brandon Cummings with the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI).
“The presentation from the applicant included a proposed design for all the hotel, office, and retail buildings on site,” Cummings wrote in an email. “Comments offered at the meeting included support for the inclusion of the grocery store and a recommendation to retain the traditional food court signage.” Feedback was also provided on the redesign of the hotel buildings (which were generally supported by the board) and the supplemental design guidelines for the office buildings on the site.
Due to time constraints at the meeting, The Northeast Design Review Board was only able to discuss the hotel and office buildings in full before the meeting concluded—deliberations on the retail buildings and other aspects of the applicant team’s proposal were scheduled to be discussed at subsequent meetings for the project, according to Cummings.
The recent feedback for the transit-oriented, mixed-use development—which will look to add a new dimension to the Northgate neighborhood’s fabric at a time when investors, developers and tenants are increasingly looking to capitalize on opportunities outside of Seattle’s urban core—marked the last chapter for the Northgate Mall transformation, which has been in the works for more than a year thus far.
Simon Property Group announced its preliminary plans to redevelop Northgate Mall into the new commercial and retail hub for North Seattle in March of 2018, and these plans were approved at the initial Early Design Guidance (EDG) meeting held for the project in mid-August 2018, where much of the focus on the project centered around how it would be successfully integrated into the existing fabric of the Northgate neighborhood. In November 2018, the project owners received approval at a second EDG meeting to bring hockey franchise NHL Seattle into the fold.
The new ice center is planned to add a total of 262,000 square feet of space that would include a 20,000 square foot training center, 120,000 square feet of office space, roughly 12,000 square feet of retail space and 110,000 square feet of sports and recreation space to the existing project site.
In early February 2019, the team received design approval for the massing four buildings within the proposed development site, in a component that will comprise 986 residential units, 46 live-work units and 59,725 square feet of retail space. Most recently, in late February, the Board approved the Northgate Mall streetscape and plans for the public- and open-space components of the project, which include new streets, pedestrian corridors and public spaces.
As the Northgate Mall overhaul continues to gather momentum over the next several months—with the most recent feedback in early June indicating that positive progress continues to be made with the project—interesting times undoubtedly lie ahead for Northgate and the Northgate Mall within it, which will look to become the new social heart of North Seattle.