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February 19, 2019

Northgate redo now offers fewer curbs, more trees, ‘svelte' streets

Journal Staff Reporter

Renderings by GGLO [enlarge]
An amphitheater will flank this park at the center of the new urban village.

Simon Property Group's planned makeover of its 55-acre Northgate Mall is so huge that different city design reviews tackle different components of the project, which is being overseen by GGLO.

The next review, the sixth since August, will be at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at Good Shepherd Center, 4649 Sunnyside Ave. N. Another meeting is scheduled for April.

Being emphasized this month is the look and feel of Northgate's redevelopment to shoppers, pedestrians, commuters and office workers — how they'll navigate the new terrain. That includes the central, three-rink NHL practice facility that was added to the plan last fall. All three rinks will be open to the public when not in team use.

GGLO and Simon are selling the project, which has no stated budget, as “a walkable, mixed-use, transit-oriented district, with a special focus on active and healthy lifestyles.”

In general, last fall's scheme upped the offices, added a second hotel and decreased the retail from its current size. JCPenney and Macy's will leave. Nordstrom's future is unclear.

The north third of the property will be developed later. Everything described below is on the southern two-thirds of the property, which totals about 33 acres. The numbers are about the same as last fall:

• 1 million square feet of offices in four buildings

• 400,000 square feet of retail in multiple buildings, about 40 percent of which is new construction

• 400 hotel rooms in two buildings

• 5,118 parking spaces, mostly structured and underground

• 953 residential units in four mixed-use buildings along the quieter east side of the property

• 321,150 square feet of open, public space, which includes the central park, plazas, promenades and pedestrian connectors

On more of a design level, GGLO says it has added more trees and landscaping, made short-term bike parking easier to find, and continued to prioritize pedestrian over vehicular traffic with “svelte roads that incorporate traffic-calming elements.” Many streets will be winding, with curbless sidewalks, with some small surface parking areas and some angled parking stalls to decrease vehicular speed. Curb bulbs and cobblestones are also planned.

At the center of the new urban village, GGLO says, “The wall between rink No. 3 and the park will have large operable doors which allow people to move freely between these spaces when the doors are open. Both the central park and rink No. 3 can be programmed with special events throughout the year. These spaces are intended to become the social heart of the neighborhood.” The lawn has about 11,000 square feet, and the park looks to have about 48,000 square feet or more.

Flanking the park on its southwest corner is an amphitheater for sitting or viewing. GGLO mentions outdoor movies, concerts, farmers markets and seasonal festivals among possible uses. Two small retail pavilions with an overhead hexagonal trellis will also flank the park. A children's water spray park is planned.

Although individual artists have not been named, GGLO says, “Art installations will foster intuitive wayfinding through and around the site. In addition to serving as prominent visual landmarks, art pieces will lend their character to their surroundings, helping to create memorable spatial identity.” Creative street and pathway names are planned to help with navigation.

The future retail and restaurant mix is too far ahead to predict. Northgate currently has about 130 shops, plus two dozen food vendors and restaurants. Those numbers will surely shrink. For illustrative purposes, GGLO's renderings includes brands like Warby Parker eyeglasses, Brompton folding bicycles and Smitten Ice Cream — a far cry from the current retail palette. Last fall a grocery store was indicated, which would be a big draw to residents and commuters, but there are no new hints about an operator.

Simon expects 22,000 daily riders when Northgate Station opens to light rail in 2021. And it notes, “Brick and mortar shopping still accounts for 90 percent of all retail sales, and as a result, well-positioned properties continue to thrive.”

No start date, general contractor or financial partners have been announced for the phased project. Last fall's meeting indicated that the NHL facility would be built first, followed by the offices, retail and apartments.

Generator Studio of Kansas City, Missouri, is designing the NHL facility. KPFF is the civil engineer. CallisonRTKL is doing the commercial architecture. GGLO will apparently design the residential buildings, in addition to master planning the mall makeover.

EA Engineering is listed on the initial 6.5-acre demolition plan along with Bush, Roed & Hitchings and Terracon Consultants. That demolition will remove the Macy's and other retail east of Nordstrom. That's basically where the NHL facility will go. A Macy's spokesperson told The Seattle Times in January that the store would close in early 2020.

The SEPA filing, written last year, states, “Demolition is planned to begin in the second quarter of 2019, and is expected to be completed by the last quarter of 2019. Additional demolition phases would be required for future planned redevelopment.”


Brian Miller can be reached by email at brian.miller@djc.com or by phone at (206) 219-6517.

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