Merlone Geier Plans Massive Overhaul of Northgate Mall in San Rafael, But Plans Are Preliminary

Merlone Geier, San Rafael, Northgate Mall

By Jon Peterson

Merlone Geier Partners is planning a major redevelopment of the Northgate Mall in San Rafael into a mixture of housing, retail and entertainment for the future. The potential housing portion of the project could include the development of a total of 1,356 units, according to information provided by the property owner.

The real estate company is still in the very early phases of its redevelopment plan, and it wants to include public feedback before it officially moves on the project. “We are looking forward to having more feedback from the community before with go ahead with our redevelopment plans for our asset. It could be as long as 18 to 24 months from now before we would possibly be ready to start the redevelopment process with the asset,” says Stephen Logan, vice president of development with Merlone Geier.

The project could be redeveloped in two distinct phases. The first one, called Northgate 2025, calls for the phased construction of 896 housing units that would be built around the former Sears store portion of the mall. The phase also includes plans for the transformation of the existing Century Theatre to be remodeled into a luxury multi-screen movie complex with an IMAX theatre. Portions of the mall would have to be demolished in this phase in order to create gathering areas, walking and bike paths and outdoor connectivity throughout the site.

The second phase of the redevelopment goes by the name of Northgate 2040, and one of its primary features is the phased construction of an additional 460 housing units. This would include reconfigured retail to reflect smaller footprint spaces as well as additional new retail storefronts and standalone restaurant pads along Las Gallinas Avenue.

The housing portion of the redevelopment at Northgate has not been determined at this time, but the developer is open to suggestions and alternative approaches. “We are very open to listing to see what the community would prefer to see. Our preference at this time would be for rental housing, and I know some residents have expressed a desire for at least some for-sale product,” said Logan.

Merlone Geier is mostly known as a retail investor, although it does have experience with housing around some of its retail projects. The real estate investment company has had some preliminary talks with housing firms that might be interested in becoming part of the redevelopment project team, however the firm sees three alternative approaches to this process. “We could do this project ourselves, create a joint venture with a housing developer or we could sell outright the housing part of the project to another developer,” said Logan.

Merlone Geier has owned Northgate since February of 2017. The investment firm had acquired the property for $141 million at that time, according to public records.

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