Feb 17, 2023 - News

Northgate Mall's contentious future

A sign for the now-closed Northgate Mall in Durham on Club Boulevard. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

The future of the defunct Northgate Mall in Durham will be as a life-science campus, the developers of the high-profile property say.

  • But that plan runs contrary to the wishes of its neighbors in the Walltown community.

Driving the news: Northwood Investors, a firm that bought the mall in 2018, told neighbors at a standing-room-only meeting Thursday it plans to submit a rezoning request to build lab space along with some retail and a small park.

  • A previous concept included housing on the 58-acre property, but Northwood's Sandy Spurgin said the economics don't work for the developer.
  • Duke University also owns part of the property — the former Macy's space — with plans to build medical offices there.
A rendering of the proposed life-science campus. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

Why it matters: The Walltown Community Association, a group that represents the historically Black working-class neighborhood next to the mall, opposed Northwood's plans when they were revealed last year.

  • The group is advocating for affordable housing on the property as well to combat increased housing prices in the neighborhood.

What they're saying: Patrick Byker, an attorney representing Northwood, said the developer is exploring building affordable housing on one acre of the property.

Yes, but: A lack of guarantee and the small scale of the potential housing did not please the crowd, which forced the developers to do a Q&A session.

  • Before the meeting, WCA members passed around fliers that asked for 11 acres dedicated to housing.

What we're watching: Northwood has not yet submitted a rezoning application, so its final plans could change. But it's clear the developer will continue receiving neighborhood pushback.


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