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Transit-oriented redevelopment planned for Northgate Mall property

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There will still be shopping, said Simon Property Group—but a transforming Northgate needs more

A Northgate Mall restaurant in 1968.
Courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives (Item 78706)

With light rail service planned for 2021, Northgate is on the brink of a major neighborhood transformation, being more connected to the rest of the city than ever before. Northgate Mall covers 55 acres adjacent to the station, and with changes coming to the neighborhood, the mall’s owners are imagining something much denser: not just a mall, but a massive transit-oriented development that also includes housing and office space.

“Our vision for Northgate still encompasses 500,000 to 700,000 square feet of retail,” read a statement from Simon Property Group. “But we also see 500,000 to maybe 750,000 square feet of Class A office as alternatives to South Lake Union and eastside office nodes. The addition of more hospitality to support this area, and, of course several hundred units of housing, are what we think is really going to strengthen Northgate’s future.”

Simon’s statement also said it hopes to create “abundant green and public space that is easily accessible and [usable] for the broader neighborhood,” including wayfinding for the new station.

The Seattle Times notes that in its current form, it has about 1 million square feet of retail space—meaning the new vision would mean a little less space for shopping, but certainly still a significant amount.

Since the mall first opened in 1950, it’s been a sprawling, single-story structure, surrounded by ample parking. As the rest of the city looks toward a denser future, especially around transit—and as the number of abandoned malls across the United States only increases—it would follow that an already heavily trafficked transit hub like Northgate would do the same.

Simon anticipates working with the city for “several months” to create a “multi-year master plan, consistent with the hopes and desires of the City of Seattle, and our neighbors, and begin the hard work to make Northgate everything it aspires to be.”

“With the dynamic market changes occurring and the rail station becoming a reality,” said Simon, “this provides a great opportunity for this.”

With the project still in early stages, Simon didn’t share additional details about what sort of housing would be planned or how much. Early site plans filed with the city show residential over retail tending toward the north side of the property, with office space over retail to the south—although it’s unclear at this point what parts of the property will stick around.

But with only a single story spread across 55 acres, a current height limit of 85 feet, and likely an additional 10 feet of height coming in the future, there’s a whole lot of room to build up.