The proposed transformation of the Northgate Shopping Center in Terra Linda into housing and a shopping complex has received feedback from its neighbors. And the owner of the property, Merlone Geier Partners, is listening.
He came back with revisions that include the addition of townhouses for sale and the addition of a “town square” – just over an acre in size – that could host community gatherings, concerts and outdoor movies.
There is also room for a fenced-in dog park, children’s play area and other amenities.
The shopping center, a landmark in the valley for almost 60 years, has already undergone several redesigns. But the latest is a reflection of sweeping changes in retail.
The closure of the Sears department store was a harbinger of the need to rethink the long-held concept of shopping malls and how physical retail fits into today’s shopping and customers are turning to online shopping.
Meeting the local housing need is also a big advantage of this opportunity.
Merlone Geier Partners’ challenge will be to build a complex that not only meets the needs of the 1,320 residences it hopes to eventually build on the 45-acre site, but also continues Northgate’s role as a community and commercial hub.
Its proximity to public transport, the highway, shops and jobs is a plus when it comes to being a good site for housing.
The latest multi-phase plans may not be the ones finally approved by the city. Over the nearly two decades the developer plans to build these phases, there will likely be additional revisions dictated by changes over time.
It’s one of the biggest development proposals the city has considered and, although it’s a gradual redevelopment of the property – a significant project for that matter – there’s likely to be plenty of room for improvement. public interest for the future of the site.
More immediately, there are traffic and parking concerns that will likely form part of the public dialogue that will lead to the eventual design.
The developer should also remain open to community input regarding the size and scope of the “town square” and other community amenities as its plans progress towards city approval.
The local need for housing – especially affordable housing for the workforce and apartments for the elderly – is clear. This is a big potential advantage of the Northgate plan.
When Merlone Geier first unveiled her plan, her reps said they were interested in hearing what the community had to say. Its latest revision is a promising sign that the developer is paying attention to what it hears.