northgate mall readies huge overhaul with office and housing as north seattle neighborhood transforms
northgate mall readies huge overhaul with office and housing as north seattle neighborhood transforms

A redevelopment planned by the owner of the 68-year-old mall includes plans for retail, offices and housing for the property that spans more than 50 acres.

Northgate Mall is lining up a major overhaul as the north Seattle neighborhood grows and anticipates the arrival of light rail.

The mall, considered one of the first of its kind when it opened in 1950, is preparing to add offices and housing while retaining some shops as part of what its owner called “a complete re-imagining of Northgate.”

Simon Property Group, a national mall owner based in Indianapolis, said it filed an application for a redevelopment on Thursday but declined to release many details or grant an interview.

Simon declined to say whether any part of the mall itself will be torn down. But it said it envisions 500,000 to 750,000 square feet of retail on the ground floor of the property. The current property has roughly 1 million square feet of shops across a property that spans about 50 acres.

Simon said it plans to add 500,000 to 750,000 square feet of office space to its property. That would accommodate about 2,500 to 3,700 office workers.

Simon said the Class A office space would be an alternative to the high office rents in the region’s hottest markets, like South Lake Union and the Eastside.

In addition, Simon plans to add “several hundred units of housing,” and “hospitality,” a likely reference to a hotel, though the company declined to elaborate.

The development also contemplates “abundant green and public space” that would be open to the broader neighborhood.

“We are extremely excited to undertake a complete re-imagining of Northgate, reinforcing this real estate as the heart of the ever-changing Northgate area,” Simon said in a statement.

“This would be a several-year transformation of the property,” Simon said. “We anticipate a process with the city of Seattle that could take up to several months.”

A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Construction and Inspections did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

Northgate has been a hotspot for development plans with the anticipated 2021 opening of the new light rail station at 1st Avenue NE, which will connect the area to central Seattle through the University District. One of the station entrances will be on mall property, and a ride to downtown is expected to take 14 minutes.

Northgate Mall has undergone transformations before. In 2005, Simon tore down the old movie theater and the buildings on the northwest part of the property.

Two decades before that, former owner DeBartolo Property Management tried to expand the mall but was stymied over the years by environmental laws and neighborhood protests against traffic.

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And in 1965, the mall underwent an expansion to double in size, coinciding with the opening of the adjacent Interstate 5.

When it opened in April 1950, anchored by the Bon Marché department store, Northgate was the first indoor shopping center in the United States to be defined as a “mall,” though there were at least three predecessor shopping centers in the country, according to HistoryLink. The mall was also featured that year in Life Magazine for hosting a 212-foot Christmas tree, the world’s tallest at the time.

Today, the mall has 130 shops and lots of parking. It’s anchored by Nordstrom, JCPenney and Macy’s, and includes a play area and large food court featuring 24 restaurants and quick-bite stops

Malls have been struggling generally across the country, though they have been thriving in the Seattle area recently. Still, Northgate pulls in far less money per square foot than other popular regional shopping centers, like Pacific Place, Bellevue Square and University Village.

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