The Northgate that most College Station residents know and love is not the same Northgate of the past. After the turn of the 20th century, a post office, tailor, and a shoemaker were spread around the northern entrance to Texas A&M. These shops were separated from campus by a gate, the north gate. Northgate has been changing ever since, with improvements every so often. The Northgate that most residents are familiar with came about in the 1970s. Entertainment replaced shops and local businesses.
In the last twelve years the city of College Station has invested over $25 million to improve the Northgate District. Recently the city wants the Northgate district to go back to its roots. They have a vision for the district to become a downtown of sorts with business, bars, and residences and shopping all mingling together. College Station officials want graduates of Texas A&M and Blinn to stay in town once they graduate. Often times when students graduate they migrate to metropolitan areas because of the opportunities. College Station is hoping that creating a more economically diverse area will attract graduates to stay.
Northgate development exploded in 2012, and College Station is getting ready for many multimillion-dollar developments that will attract people in and around the 150-acre district. The first big development will be the new Northside residence hall that will be opening in fall 2013. The new residence hall will be the first new hall constructed at Texas A&M since the 1980s. The hall is sited to take the place of McInnis Hall, Crocker Hall, Moore Hall, and the North Area Housing Office. This new residence hall is only the start of the universities master plan to rejuvenate the north side of campus. Northside residence hall will have a 640 student capacity and a lobby & reception area with 24-hour front desk. Other amenities include free washer/dryers, media room, multi-purpose rooms, learning center, coffee shop, convenience store, and much more.
The next development to the area will be a promenade that will align with the Bonfire Memorial and will have pedestrian connectivity with the golf course. Texas A&M is working with the developer of the golf course to incorporate it into some of its offerings.
A big highlight of the city’s latest budget is the increase to the police department. $1 million in appropriation was created for a new unit that will be specifically for Northgate.
Another development that will make many residences happy is the plan for a new CVS pharmacy. J.J. Smith, executive vice president for developer Campus Acquisitions, said the company is close to finalizing a lease with CVS for the frontage along University Drive. He also said he has strong interest from quick-serve restaurants for space facing Church Avenue.
The city council also changed the rules for entertainment and saying that bars and restaurants are now able to set up sidewalk dining and entertainment. The request for this came after the city approved plans to improve the pedestrian walkways and to restrict some of the car traffic in specific areas. The council also approved an easing of regulations for mobile food vendors in Northgate.
With all the changes happening in the Northgate area, traffic is surely going to become an issue. City planners are looking into long-range improvements to nearby roads that will help to provide alternatives to traveling on University Drive. Many of the developers are partnering with the city to pay for roadwork and turn lanes. The changes to roads also bring $256,000 in new road signs to direct drivers to the district.
With the Northgate area attracting more graduates to stay local, this will impact the housing market. Many jobs will be created due to the increase in business and the graduates will also need housing. Areas such as Northside Historic Area will be hot areas for people looking to live close to the thriving new area.