Urban Politics #170: Northgate Legislation

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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.

With assistance from my L.A. Newell Aldrich on this issue.

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.



  • Council Passes Northgate Legislation
  • Key Elements Of Northgate Legislation

Council Passes Northgate Legislation

The City Council today passed legislation that clears the way for new development at Northgate. The legislation reflects agreement between the Council, Mayor, the developer, and neighborhood activists. Disagreements between community activists and developers have hindered development until now, as legal challenges have stopped previous proposals for development.

The success of this legislation reflects the willingness of the Council to work with the developer, Lorig Associates, and the community, as well as the Mayor. It was necessary to bring in all participants in order to be successful.

The Council passed four pieces of Northgate-related legislation:

– A resolution establishing a framework for overall action in Northgate and for community involvement.

– Direction to the Seattle Dept. of Transportation to develop a Northgate Coordinated Transportation Investment Plan, cost sharing and scope.

– Amendments to the Land Use Code for a repeal of the General Development Plan rule on large Northgate-area developments.

– A new development agreement with Simon Properties for the redevelopment of the Northgate Mall.

Key Elements Of Northgate Legislation

The key elements of the legislation passed include:

Northgate Mall Development:

– The new development agreement allows Northgate Mall to demolish the abandoned buildings and build up to 230,000 new square feet, including 63,000 square feet of streetfront development along 5th Avenue NE. Simon will also improve its 5th Avenue NE entryway.

– In designing its new development, Simon will consider ways to use natural drainage methods, sustainable design and green building techniques and the city’s new plans for Northgate area pedestrian circulation and open space. Simon will seek input and advice from a new Northgate stakeholders group.

South Lot development:

– Lorig Associates plans to buy 5.9 acres of the south lot from Simon and develop 150,000 square feet of retail or commercial, 300 or more mixed income residential units, and attractive public plazas and walkways.

– Includes provisions for joint planning among Lorig Associates, the City, and King County/METRO on the South Lot.

– The framework resolution lays out a process for work on site plan for the South Lot to configure 2.7 acres of open space and 5.9 acres of development in a manner to preserve the option of day lighting Thornton Creek (in full or in part).

– The agreement gives the City 1-year option to purchase 2.7 acres of South Lot for open space and natural drainage for $375,000, and deletes all provisions relating to a stormwater detention and treatment facility as proposed in the original version.

Update development regulations:

– Repeals the General Development Plan (GDP) rule on large Northgate properties.

– In repealing the GDP, directs the Executive to identify ways to address areawide development impacts and mitigation, including consideration of a SEPA Planned Action as a next step to follow on the Coordinated Transportation Investment Plan (CTIP).

– For the CTIP, a resolution directed the City Dept. of Transportation to bring a scope, schedule, budget and public involvement process to the Council by April 15, 2004.

Future Steps for Northgate:

– Calls for the creation by February 1, 2004 of a stakeholders group to include representatives from existing groups and additional categories of interests to share information and provide advice to the City on:

– An Urban Center plan for open space and pedestrian connections.

– The CTIP.

– Implementation of the 5th Avenue NE Streetscape Design.

– Planning for large lot developments (particularly early input on conceptual site plans).

– Undertake new planning to establish a system of pedestrian and open space connections, stimulate multi-family housing, and economic development.

– Consider applying other planning and environmental tools such as a SEPA Planned Action to aid in the planning and permitting of multiple sites or large areas while addressing area impacts; the legislation also directed the Executive to bring recommendations back to the Council to address area-wide impacts.

– Simon Properties, the South lot owner, commits to coordinating with the City and County on South lot planning, and to developing 150 until of housing, in the event that Lorig doesn’t develop.

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