And Durham_Transplant - I agree with your assessment. I want to emphasize that my favorite component was a plan for a large amount of office space. If that comes to fruition and is successful (two HUGE "ifs" in our COVID world), it could transform that area to a true (as the marketing folks call it ) "Live. Work. Play." area. It could be the start of that area being like a North Hills (just in terms of gravitational pull of the area, hopefully it would have much more of a Durham feel).
My favorite moment was when someone asked if they could replace some of the parking with more green space. HUGE missed opportunity to blame parking minimums in that area.
Not sure if I can even count this as “news” but this blurb about CBRE contains some interesting tidbits. I certainly like the vision they put forth — pedestrian friendly, green space, a variety of commercial spaces. Also thought it was interesting that the article states the project will begin this year. Not sure what that means exactly but Northwood clearly continues to push this forward.
It looks like you may very well be right. I had to go back to the main investment portfolio page to get the full image but it seems to align with the footprint outline that they shared during the last community engagement meeting. Attempted link to a screenshot below. It was a bit disorienting at first until I realized that the large 3 story building on the very left was the Duke medical facility and the small building to the right of that is the existing BofA branch.
The other thing that stood out to me was the specific mention of “life science space” and the involvement of the dedicated life science team from CBRE. Between the ongoing activity in RTP and the Durham Innovation District this is very much becoming a hotbed for the life science segment. Makes sense to lean into that trend with a large scale new development.
Thanks for finding that image in the Sears portfolio on Northwood's site.
I'm curious if they're reusing the old Northgate deck near the theater/failed outdoor plaza. It's in the same location but maybe they're planning some adjustments. That deck got a weird extension when Durham City/County Planning required them to add spaces in the late 2000s failed renovation. The other deck looks original.
The image definitely shows Duke making the Macy's into a medical clinic. I would have speculated whether Duke bought the Macy's with the intention of redevelopment all along, or because they wanted to have a say in the redevelopment. They've been savvy and capable supporters of Durham's redevelopment.
The green-strip sort of reminds me of Birkdale Village in Charlotte, or Park West in Cary. Can be a good model if done right.
Disappointing not to see better connections to Trinity Park to the south of it, though that was always going to be a challenge when the old Northgate owners sold off outparcels like the BofA branch. I assume that's under the bank's control and not Northwood's.
That is some serious office building density along the old backside/basement offices of Northgate.
The street alignment running over to the office building, bank/restaurant, hotel strip is well done. A nice redevelopment opportunity there, too, though some of those parcels are freshly developed.
With the opening of the East End Connector, this is suddenly a very well connected site for RTP/Airport access, along with proximity to downtown and Duke.
Really curious to see how they do with this. The mall really needed to be in the hands of a very experienced mixed use developer to pull off something like this.
That’s a great point about the connector that doesn’t get discussed enough. Being able to circumvent the downtown stretch of 147 makes RTP super accessible all the sudden.
People tend to focus on ATC2 quite a bit for obvious reasons given the downtown location and proximity to DBAP. But this is nearly 50% bigger and (hopefully) incorporates lots of green and public space. This project could end up being a huge catalyst for the area especially giving folks in North Durham much easier access to “urban” dining and entertainment (again assuming).
Also Northwood does own that portion of the property that the bank branch sits on but I assume the branch was locked into a longer term agreement that they couldn’t terminate. But they will have the option to do something with it in the future.
Huh, I didn't know Northwood owned the BoA branch lot.
I remember about 7-8 years ago, Northgate when run by Ginny Bowman, that was one of several outparcel sales. I assumed at the time it was for revenue or cash flow while trying to bring the mall back to life. Good on Northwood if they purchased it; you could well be right about a long term ground lease, etc.
I used to own a house years ago not far from the mall and wanted to see it succeed -- it would have been great to have a strong retail anchor there.
Good point on North Durham, though I do think ATC Phase 2 will be a strong anchor. Remarkable to think that every bank turned down the Goodmons for financing of the very first part of the first phase (Compuware, Glaxo, Duke space), and Self-Help was the only financier that would take it. They've built a nice real estate portfolio and I am excited to see how they execute on the new phase. Based on Northwood's Van Alen project I think we will see something much more conventional at Northgate - still a nice addition but I can't imagine as creative as what we get from the folks who decided to run an artificial river through ATC!
This looks like a nice project. I echo the sentiment about biotech, we're going to see any big new office development pitch themselves as possible lab/biotech space as long as the industry remains hot. They won't all pan out that way, but this is definitely a positive trend.
This project will take a long time to build out, I assume, but over time I'd expect it to be more integrated into the neighborhood. Eventually those suburban business on the periphery will be flipped and redeveloped like we've seen in North Hills in Raleigh.
Good point, Steve. I think it’s safe to say that Boost Mobile, the sketchy Burger King and the new vape shop with the epilepsy-inducing light show will eventually go extinct. Also one of Dave’s development watch lists identified a smaller mixed use project slated for the vacant lot right behind the bus stop directly across from the Macy’s building.
Based on nothing other than pure speculation, I suspect that Northwood’s silence on this project is related to the community backlash that has been percolating. Otherwise it makes very little sense that they wouldn’t be promoting a project of this scale more aggressively. And certainly no better time to be launching a major redevelopment project in Durham than right now with all the momentum building here. But much easier to weather the criticism when the actual construction process is underway and too late to reverse course.
The Walltown Community Association has done an admirable job of advocating on behalf of the community and proposing “alternate” site plans but frankly most of it is completely unrealistic to expect of a private developer (eg: satellite library branch and Durham Tech campus). It’s a difficult situation because you absolutely need a very sophisticated developer with tremendous amounts of capital in order to pull this off. But that also requires a significant monetary return. I believe, from what has been made public, that Northwood has already committed >$100MM to this project before demolition even gets underway.
I struggle with the point you brought up all the time. In theory, I love the idea of residents having input into the way their community is shaped. But the way the game theory plays out, this has only led to squashing of otherwise positive projects. If you try to make every citizen happy, you will create an infeasible project, every time.
That said, I think you may be right. There may be silence due to the current state of construction costs, but it also could be to fly under the radar a bit. Again, the system is set up poorly. Developers are incentivized to keep tight lips (otherwise they may be seen as committing to project elements), so all this backlash actually LESSENS community engagement in the end as developers keep mum.
Yup. I’ve been observing this project more carefully than most because I only live a few blocks away on Club. Early on, Northwood held several community engagement sessions and put out a public design survey as previously mentioned in this thread. The responses were predictable: affordable housing, affordable retail, community, center, etc. At one point, they made either a formal or informal request to the city council to allow for height up to 6 stories for the residential portions to make it easier to finance with the inclusion of affordable units. That request was declined.
Now reading between the lines they are just going to build according to what’s already allowed under the existing zoning for the site. So it ends up being low rise 3 story residential over ground floor retail and hopefully a hotel and office space in the future. That way they don’t have to deal with the hassle and derailment of trying to get the council to sign off on a rezoning request. What could have been a more impactful project for the broader community gets totally sidetracked by unrealistic expectations and the developer takes the easiest path available.
What a disappointment. Having 6 stories of residential and another real node of density in Durham would be fantastic.
Durham just doesn't have the neighborhoods that other mid-sized cities have. If it is headed on a path towards growing to the size of an Austin, Indianapolis, Denver, or even if it has it sights set lower than that, it needs great neighborhoods.
Even a city like Burlington, VT which is much smaller has a big-feeling downtown, an arts district, a waterfront district, etc. Or closer to home, Asheville has the River Arts District, West Asheville, Downtown, South Slope, etc. Both of those cities are much smaller in population than Durham.
It’s definitely challenging to provide a complete picture of where things stand because, as noted, Northwood has been remarkably quiet about it of late. What we do know is that a company is currently in the process of auctioning off everything inside the mall between now and June. The strong implication is that they will be moving to the demolition phase shortly thereafter.
Lastly, the closest anyone has come to an actual rendering of the project was earlier this year when a different poster here noticed an image on the Northwood website.
I will say that I do not think what’s portrayed in this image would be allowed within the existing zoning parameters for the site. From what I recall, Northwood specifically stated during one of the engagement calls that the residential height would be limited to 4 stories. These appear to be 5 or 6. So not sure if that’s really an accurate representation or not. And it doesn’t appear that Northwood will be particularly forthcoming with new info or illustrations of the project anytime soon.