A new mixed-use project in the Northgate area may include a new “woonerf” as part of the site design. The imagery from the design documents evokes something approximating European- and Asian-style shopping arcades. Those kinds of spaces are premier pedestrian experiences that this region has been missing for quite some time.

The developers are referring to the north-to-south access alley option as a woonerf, but on closer examination it’s more of a brick, paved pedestrian shortcut attached to a courtyard. The space functionally allows cars to turn around when entering and exiting the underground garage. Though perhaps not exactly a woonerf, this new kind of dual-use development makes room for new public space by breaking up superblocks for pedestrians. One of the most challenging things to being a pedestrian in Northgate is the total lack of accessible routes across the neighborhood’s many superblock-style developments.

Detailed site plan

The developers here have zeroed in on a good urban design approach for Northgate. Should this style of development continue, it could begin to heal the broken pedestrian system that currently exists in North Seattle.

Throughout the design review process, you can express your opinions on this project by submitting them to the DPD. 

Article Author
Charles Bond

Charles is an avid cyclist that uses his bike as his primary mode of transportation. He grew up in the Puget Sound, but is currently overseas living in Japan. He covers a range of topics like cycling, transit, and land use. His time in Tokyo really opened his eyes to what urbanism offers people and has a strong desire to see growth happen in Seattle.