May 30, 2024 - Business

Northgate Mall developers add affordable housing and a grocer to redevelopment plans

A rendering of the proposed changes to Northgate Mall in Durham

A rendering of the potential redevelopment of Northgate Mall in Durham. Courtesy of Northwood Investors

The developer that owns Northgate Mall in Durham tweaked its rezoning proposal for the defunct mall and now proposes adding some affordable housing.

Why it matters: The new proposal from Northwood Investors is an attempt to compromise with the neighboring Walltown community, which has resisted the developer's initial plans to turn the mall into lab space with a small amount of retail.

  • Since that first proposal last year, community members have asked that the property — located on a high-profile property north of Durham's downtown and just off Interstate 85 — contain affordable housing to combat the neighborhood's rising housing prices.

Driving the news: At a neighborhood meeting on Wednesday, Northwood presented a plan it says was based on the neighbors' feedback.

What's in it: Northwood is now proposing it will demolish the eastern third of the mall and its adjacent parking deck.

  • Northwood would replace that section with new retail space and is already in negotiations for 150,000-square-foot anchor retailer that includes a grocery and pharmacy component, Northwood's Sandy Spurgin said during a presentation.
  • The remaining portion of the mall and the old Sears would be renovated into nearly 300,000 square feet of life science labs and offices.
  • An existing strip of shops on the western portion of the property would be renovated, and additional retail space would be added around a one-acre park.
  • Most notably, Northwood says it would partner with the Charlotte real estate company Crosland Southeast to build a 72-unit affordable housing apartment complex at the corner of Club Boulevard and Gregson Street. The apartments would be for ages 55 and up.

Between the lines: The affordable apartments would require Crosland to secure Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to finance, Tim Sittema of Crosland said during the presentation.

  • The apartment building would include one- and two-bedroom apartments and would be available to people making 30%-80% of the area's median income. The median household income in Durham is $78,105, according to the Census Bureau.
  • The rents would vary in price depending on a person's income. The property, however, will have far fewer units than the Walltown Community Association had requested.
  • Northwood was not able to make financing work for market-rate apartments on the property, Spurgin added.

What's next: Spurgin said Northwood would like to have the rezoning before the city council before the end of the year, and if approved, begin construction in 2025, with a 2027 opening date.

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