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SEATTLE-Lorig Associates LLC and Stellar International Holdings have agreed in principle to buy 5.9 acres of vacant land on the south lot of Northgate Mall from Simon Properties for a 1,000-unit residential and retail development.

Lorig is a local developer whose work includes Uwajimaya Village, Market Place North, The Wallingford Center and Queen Anne High School Apartments. Stellar is a private investment company based in Seattle. Simon, an Indianapolis-based mall REIT, is the owner of Northgate Mall.

“We have investors ready to help us unleash the potential at Northgate,” says Mayor Nickels. “We just need the City Council to move on legislation I’ve sent them … .”

In March, as part of a plan for kick-start development in the Northgate area, Nickels proposed legislation that would get rid of a rule instituted in the 1990s that requires a “General Development Plan” for large Northgate sites. No other Seattle neighborhood has such regulation. Nickels says the rule was intended to improve traffic management and building design, but didn’t. In the decade since, nothing has been built under it, he says.

Removing the General Development Plan rule would clear the way for a major redevelopment of Northgate Mall and also allow new transit oriented development, a component that received the backing of King County Executive Ron Sims. “By tightly integrating housing, retail, entertainment and a public transportation hub- all within close walking distance- we will create the kind of environment that allows people to live and work in one place while making it easier for residents, shoppers and commuters to use public transportation,” Sims said in March.

Nickels’ plan includes an agreement with Simon that, if the legislation were approved, would convey 2.7 acres to the city at no cost. The acreage is adjacent to the land that would be sold to Lorig and Stellar and would be developed in coordination with their project. The council is scheduled to vote on the mayor’s proposals further later this year.

Currently, two of the approximately 7.5 acres would be set aside for wetlands and restoration if Thornton Creek, which is partially covered by the south parking lot. Creek advocates want to see about twice that much acreage preserved, which could shrink the number of housing units in the proposed project by as much as half. If the project goes through as planned, the city expects it to generate an additional $3 million in annual tax revenue and $2.5 million in one-time construction revenue.

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