December 28

More apartments planned for Northgate – can the streets handle the traffic?



Above, possible development just northwest of Northgate Mall – City of Seattle.

Below, the existing Northgate Apartments.

As Northgate continues to evolve into a regional transit and shopping hub, two collections of high-rise apartments are being planned just north and east of Northgate Mall.

To the east, Bellevue’s Wallace Properties has proposed building a new seven-story apartment building with 238 units above retail space on Northeast Northgate Way between Fifth and Eighth avenues northeast .

It would be just east of 507 Northgate, a 163-unit apartment complex Wallace opened in 2009 which is now 96 percent leased, emails Sue Geving, president of the Northgate Community Center advisory council.

To the north, an 8.4 acre site – marked “B” in light blue on this map – is now occupied by the Northgate Apartments, 207 low-rise apartments that currently rent for between $700 and $1,000 a month, according to the city, plus two single-family homes.

There, height restrictions would increase from 60 feet to 85 feet, allowing for redevelopment of higher-rise buildings  for mixed or commercial use.

The proposed street scape along Northgate Way would be similar to the drawing at the top of this post.

The Northgate area is lagging behind the city’s proposals for residential density. But some are concerned the growth will stop traffic, specifically along Northgate at First, Third and Eighth avenues. There’s a discussion of the issue here at the Pinehurst blog.

About the author 

Sara W

You may also like

Sephora coming to Ballard Blocks 2

Sephora coming to Ballard Blocks 2

Self-Defense Class

Self-Defense Class

Fall Budget // Accountability Partners on SPD’s Crowd Control Policies // Internet for All // COVID Rental Assistance // Community News You Can Use

Fall Budget // Accountability Partners on SPD’s Crowd Control Policies // Internet for All // COVID Rental Assistance // Community News You Can Use

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. The criminals who are committing burglaries or car thefts are, in point of fact, coming from either far south, or north, of Maple Leaf and then using the freeway to make their escape, or Pinehurst – not the Northgate or Lake City areas.

    A car that was stolen out of the car port where I live in Maple Leaf, was found, about a month later, in Pinehurst. Its locks had all been changed, too – a very professional group of car thieves. We’re not dealing with amateurs, but people who make a living from crime. It’s important to know that and understand they aren’t the working poor – working legitimate minimum wage jobs – such as you’d find in the Northgate or Lake City areas.

    I make note of this, since I have a friend from Mexico who lives in Lake City, and works two jobs to support his wife and son. Many of the people in the apartment building where he lives are of similar character and background. Having regularly gone out to Lake City to see him and shop, I believe they are typical of the type of people you’d find.

    The working poor have suffered enough, the past few years, without having their character slandered.

  2. Chris — You fall for a common approach by developers who are redeveloping multiple parcels… they split them up into separate projects so the individual impacts don’t look all that bad. Taken together, the new trips generated by all the new development will turn nearly all intersections in the area to Level of Service (LOS) ‘F’ (for failing).

    Additionally, the assumptions behind traffic studies can be manipulated to get whatever result matches the views of who is writing the check. Unless an opposing group is willing to spend thousands to hire an opposing study, the likely true impacts to traffic are not know until well after the developer is out of danger of being required to do anything about the problem they create.

    The City of Seattle does not properly restrict piecemealing (in fact DPD encourages it). Unlike virtually all our neighbors, we also don’t have impact fees from development. So while no single development trips the scale to have to pay for improvements, all of them together do.

    This measn Seattle taxpayers are left to pay for this instead of the developers. Because we do not have enough resources to keep up with maintenance AND expansion necessary to keep up with increased density, our roads and bridges are falling apart, we have inadequate bus service, poor pedestrian infrastructure, and lack of sidewalks.


  3. Sue – “So the question is folks, how do we get Seattle to obey state law?”

    Get rid of the entrenched leadership.

  4. David, you nailed it. Here is a quote from Vancouver regarding concurrency “In terms of transportation, concurrency requires that adequate transportation capacity is available to support new development. Basically, concurrency forces us to ensure that, as our community grows, our system of roads is able to handle our daily travels. When new development is proposed, it is studied to determine if it would exceed the City’s established Level of Service (LOS) standards. Most LOS standards deal with how long it takes to get through an intersection or turn at an intersection. They are the lowest acceptable operating level for a given road or intersection. Before the City can approve a development, a decision must be made that the development will not create enough traffic to overrun the LOS standards, or that the City or developer will be able to make traffic improvements to ensure compliance with LOS standards. In short, if a proposed development is likely to overrun established LOS standards, the development cannot be approved. Thus, concurrency allows us to implement our vision for our community in step with our growth. ”
    So the question is folks, how do we get Seattle to obey state law?

  5. Sue — Mayor Nickels threw out the Northgate Plan that requirement was lost as were the requirements for development in the Northgate area to adequately fund the concurrent infrastructure improvements. Such concurrency is actually required under state law, but is routinely ignored in Seattle.

  6. As the instigator of this article I was hoping folks would have a good discussion about the impacts of these developments. With 5 out of 6 major intersections on Northgate Way expected to fail with the expected developments I for one am very concerned. How many folks are truly going to want to live or shop in such an environment? Something folks don’t always think about is if you widen a street you then must allow more time for pedestrians to cross the extra lanes, so there is really little to be gained. The Malls off set entrance on 3rd not only creates a bottleneck but the crazy driveways also have logged many accidents. Why they were not conditioned to fix it before they were allowed to expand I will never know.

  7. @ Susan, who wrote: “I hope they are going to take the low income families into consideration when they build their new apartments.”

    Any time low-income tenants are displaced the city pays half their moving expenses and the landlord the other half. I believe the going rate is $3,000 per family. Tearing down apartments and/or creating new developments isn’t necessarily a good thing. We’re going to become another Blahview [Bellevue] with all the traffic woes.

  8. Just moved away from a place two blocks North of this site. This place was never an eyesore, as one poster said. Stanford’s sucks, maybe that’s what you’re thinking?

    Change is going to happen, whether you’ve planned for it or not.

    There is going to be an increase of families into the neighborhood. There will be a small percentage of these families that will have sons out on the streets during school hours and when most people are in bed.

    Get a few cameras. 1) some should be day cameras set up in appropriate locations 2) one or two night vision cameras should be set up looking at the driveway.

    Most cameras now come with rudimentary software. Define a box in the image area and the software uses a motion sensing algorithm to start saving a file for a defined period of time. Most also have a 10 second buffer that shows the moments before a motion has been recognized.

  9. @Zane, I disagree. I think the existing townhouses could be improved and that overall they are better than a blocky apartment building. Currently, there are courtyards and lawns between the buildings. There is actually a lot of open space mixed in.

  10. I welcome this. The existing complex is a dump and is falling apart. The building on the corner in 1st and Northgate way has sunk into the ground like 10 inches from 1 side to the other. Good riddance.

  11. I live in a home that I grew up in. I love Maple Leaf! Things have changed.

    I like the Northgate Apartments. Will the people that live there be able to afford the new development? Doubtful. What about their jobs in the area?

    I hope we don’t become stuck up snobs living up here.

    If you look on the property map you can see that Seattle Housing Authority owns properties in our neighborhood. Your neighbors might be lower income.

  12. While the existing apartments are run down, I would rather seem them fixed up than have huge apartments go in. Right now, the apartments look like townhouses and there is a lot of room for kids to play. I hope they are going to take the low income families into consideration when they build their new apartments. They should be required to provide some good urban parks that are safe and that families will use.

  13. I fully support building both of the developments mentioned above. I’m really looking forward to a more walkable and denser Northgate. In my view itt has improved so much in the last 10 years. Bring on denser development! Bring on light rail. Let these developments go forward, then let’s see what more can be done on the southern side of the mall.

    BTW: I’ve seen Seattle listed as one of the BEST large cities in which to raise children. I think perhaps those lists are based more on cultural opportunities (Pacific Science Center, Seattle Childrens Theater, etc) and less on letting the kids loose to play in the neigborhood.

  14. Bruce and Simon – SDOT is working on improvements to Northgate Way. They are widening the intersection at 5th and Northgate Way and improving the signal timing. A major focus of the effort is to get busses through that intersection in a timely manner.

  15. @MapleLeafBob Not a personal jab at all. A sincere invitation to leave the city, an idea which you suggested.

    @Simon I agree that sidewalks are an essential part of public infrastructure, and getting them to north Seattle and the few other parts of the city that don’t have them now should be a top priority.

    Regarding Northgate Way: it has two problems, Mall traffic and the freeway interchange. I don’t think you can fix either by widening Northgate Way, because surface streets around freeway interchanges are basically always a mess. You can see this everywhere in the city: compare Northgate Way vs 92nd St, 45th St vs 40th St in the U-District, Denny vs Lakeview where they both cross I-5. Wider roads generate more traffic: more lanes of gridlock during rush hour, and higher speeds off-peak, leading to more fatalities.

    The solution is better pedestrian infrastructure (like bridges) where those roads have to exist, and providing alternatives to driving all the time, which is the purpose of building a subway to Northgate.

  16. @Bruce:

    Growing up in a nice quite neighborhood with room to play and quality schools versus busy streets, higher crime, and crappy schools definitely has its advantages. Regardless if you are pro-city or pro-burbs.

    Your response shows your intelligence level or should I say lack thereof. You don’t agree with someone, so you immediately take a personal jab. Real classy!!

  17. My only concern with this apartment redevelopment (I think it will be an aesthetic improvement over the current site) is that Northgate Way needs to be reengineered, and the way one drives into the parking lots at Northgate Mall have to be redone/re-thought out. If the traffic could just get through it wouldn’t be so bad, but people are constantly stopped by red lights and pedestrians crossing mid-street on Northgate Way that it’s a huge bottleneck.

    They probably need to seriously widen the street, eliminate the north entry to the mall parking lot and redo other entrances to it, add a couple of elderly- and stroller-accessible pedestrian overpass walkways, and allow left turns onto 5th. There also needs to be better signage or routing for drivers trying to get into the lots under Target.

    I do think that there are some anti-kid undercurrents in Seattle’s urban/civil planning, however. Half the time I think these undercurrents are intentional, and half the time I think they’re due to ignorance or neglect by planners. Although the population of children has swollen in recent years, property in the city is barely affordable for families, and the lack of basic kid-friendly infrastructure like SIDEWALKS is troubling.

    Maple Leaf is teeming with kids, but for half a million dollars the “affordable” house you can buy here will typically have only three bedrooms and one bath. And it’s still not a neighborhood you can comfortably let your kids ride their bikes unsupervised through, and you can’t really let the grade schoolers walk to school by themselves given the lack of sidewalks. So I agree that kid- or family-friendly planning is weak here, generally speaking.

  18. Some people need to stop pretending they live in the suburbs. We are a part of an urban city. With proximity to shops and employers comes density. You can’t have urban amenities and a suburban environment. If you want strictly single family homes and empty streets, you need to move further away from the city…and lose the urban amenities you currently enjoy. You can’t have it both ways…I agree we need to make sure the neighborhood stays safe and nice, but we can’t ignore the fact we live in an urban area. Let’s work with this reality.

  19. As a long time Northgate single family homeowner and mother of two children who will be looking for homes of their own in the next ten years, I strongly welcome this change. I also look forward to the additional zoning changes and development that is being discussed at the light rail station. I love having access to the increased retail and services available and I am grateful for the additional choices that my kids will have for housing. And, who knows, I may get tired of taking care of this huge yard and move into a condo or apartment at the light rail station someday. It is good to have more choices.

  20. The current apartments are a bit of an eyesore, I’d be happy to see them replaced. Northgate is zoned for more density, higher spaces, and the growing business area there needs a population to support it. We are also sinking millions of tax dollars into connecting Northgate to high speed light rail mass transit, it just makes sense for developers to be building urban apartments and condos close to the light rail stop, that type of development i part of the long term plan for the area. And Maple Leaf businesses should profit from the increased density nearby.

  21. Wow, what a pair of NIMBY whiners to start the comment threads.


    The overwhelming plurality of the land in the city is zoned single family; Urban Villages such as Northgate are the exception. The idea that the city “hates kids” is fatuous — the number of kids in Seattle has boomed in recent years, to the point that SPS is out of capacity in some schools. I’m pretty sure no new single-family subdivisions have been platted lately, so I’m guessing that somehow, someway, people are finding ways to raise kids in denser neighborhoods, just like they somehow, someway manage to do in big cities all over the developed world.

    @MapleLeafBob I would encourage you to move back to the Eastside, you definitely would fit in better there.

    Personally, I think having more multifamily housing in the vicinity of a future light rail station is a great idea.

  22. The artist rendition of the proposed building can no convey the sense of 7 stories of concrete and glass looming. What about the displacement of all the people currently living in the apartments that will be torn down? Families live there and it’s affordable. The new apartment building who are the projected inhabitants? What about that apartment complex in Thornton Place? Is it full? Is that why there is going to be new construction? If not, why build more apartments unless it meets the needs of the people it is displacing? Is there room on the streets for the increased traffic?

  23. @Jon:

    I tend to agree. I use to say I would never go back to the burbs on the Eastside, which is where I grew up because I love the culture, diversity, and unique aspects of the city. I will take Cloud City over a strip mall Starbucks any day. But, with the lack of space, small lots, increasing crime, and overcrowded streets, my thoughts are changing. It’s just not a great environment to raise kids in. There is something about the feeling that your kids are in a better environment riding their bike around a neighborhood cul de sac as opposed to side streets with people zooming around between 5th ave, Roosevelt, and 15th ave.

    The positive note that I can see from upgrading the existing run down apartment buildings is that the newer places may bring different tenants. The reality is that the crime in Maple Leaf is probably 90% committed by people coming into the neighborhood from trashgate and ghetto city, I mean Northgate and Lake City.

  24. I think the City’s density priorities are detrimental to our neighborhood. If the City Council got there way, there wouldn’t be any more single family neighborhoods, and we’d all live in townhomes and ride the bus, because there’d be no room to park our cars. Apartment life might be great for the single, transitional demographic, but it doesn’t work for families. It continues to be apparent that the City hates children and wants to push most of the families out.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Subscribe to our newsletter now!