Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider
- As many as 25% of malls may close in the next five years, according to a recent report.
- We visited Seattle's Northgate Mall, which originally opened in 1950, and is now trying to reinvent itself as a new downtown for Seattleites fleeing skyrocketing rents.
- Though intended to form an affordable neighborhood, the area lacks the public spaces, density, and pedestrian walkways that would make it attractive to urban millennials.
Opened in 1950, Northgate Mall has survived for nearly 70 years as a hub of commerce for the outer neighborhoods of Seattle, Washington.
But, like all malls today, Northgate faces tremendous headwinds as American consumers shift their spending patterns.
Real-estate research firm Cushman & Wakefield estimated that visits to malls have declined by as much as 50% in recent years. In a recent report, analysts from Credit Suisse predicted that 20% to 25% of malls — about 220 to 275 shopping centers — would shutter over the next five years, largely because of store closures.
Simon Property Group, Northgate's owner, and the city of Seattle have responded to recent trends by attempting to reinvent the mall as the center of a new downtown.
We visited recently to see how one mall is trying to buck the "retail apocalypse."
Northgate Mall is located in northwest Seattle just off Interstate 5, the highway that forms the backbone of the city.Google Maps/Screenshot
The earliest designers of malls like Northgate saw them as the suburban replacement for a vibrant downtown. Ironically, 70 years later, the "retail apocalypse" and larger urban trends may make that dream a reality in Northgate.Minnesota Historical Society
The city is hoping to turn suburban Northgate into a thriving urban neighborhood. Currently only reachable by car and bus, Seattle is in the midst of a a $1.9 billion transit project that will connect Northgate to downtown via light rail by 2021.Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider
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