Aug 29, 2022 - News

Developer of Northgate Mall project changes course

A fading red sign that reads Northgate Mall.
Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

The group seeking to redevelop the vacant Northgate Mall — a significant and influential piece of real estate in central Durham — has changed its mind on how it wants to use the 58-acre property.

What's happening: Northwood Investors, an investment firm that bought the mall from Club Boulevard for $34 million in 2018, told WRAL and neighbors at a community meeting last week it no longer wanted to include housing in its redevelopment plans.

  • Instead, Northwood wants to focus more on life science use and office space, and much of the current mall space could remain standing.
  • Northwood needs a rezoning permit to redevelop the mall, which has existed in some fashion since the 1960s.

Indoor malls have floundered in the past decade, as shopping habits have changed leading to the closure of many big-box retailers.

  • Cary Towne Center was demolished earlier this year to make way for the new headquarters of Epic Games. And Raleigh's Crabtree Valley Mall is reportedly for sale and facing potential redevelopment.
An empty parking lot with empty store fronts in the distance.
Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

Why it matters: The rezoning and plans for the mall have been contentious since 2018. Northwood faces pushback over potential gentrification impacts from the Walltown Community Association, a group that represents the historically Black working-class neighborhood adjacent to the mall property.

  • Housing prices have increased dramatically in that neighborhood in recent years due to its proximity to Duke University and downtown Durham.
  • Others have expressed concerns the city is missing an opportunity to make the property more walkable and less reliant on cars. The proposed plan features large amounts of surface parking space.
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