Duke recently purchased a 183,840 square-foot building in Northgate Mall that will become the largest Duke Health clinic off the main hospital campus. 

The two-story building—previously a Macy’s department store that closed in early 2017—will house administrative offices and patient clinics for Duke Health. The project is expected to be completed by the beginning of 2020.

“We needed some additional medical space, and we had the opportunity to buy the building at a good price. It has good parking, excellent access and is exactly in between the two hospitals that we service,” said Scott Selig, associate vice president for capital assets and real estate for the University. 

Selig said he believes Duke’s presence in Northgate will be positive because it could spur economic growth. Malls around the United States have been losing business due to the rise of online shopping, and Northgate has not been immune to that trend, Selig said. He noted that more foot traffic in the area would provide stores the opportunity to gain more customers. 

Selig compared Northgate to the American Tobacco District near downtown, which was once completely empty. However, business increased after Duke bought offices at the American Tobacco Campus, which now houses over 2,500 Duke employees. 

“That activity has spurred businesses around American Tobacco and throughout downtown simply because [the employees] have a disposable income and time to eat lunch, go shopping and enjoy entertainment,” Selig said. “Hopefully, Northgate will enjoy the same benefits.”

He explained that downtown has gone from the highest vacancy rate and lowest rental rates in the region to the lowest vacancy rate and highest rental rates in the region. 

The idea for the Northgate location took root when Ginny Bowman, managing general partner of Northgate Associates, visited One Hundred Oaks Mall in Nashville, where Vanderbilt Medical Center has added clinics and office space. She remembered that Duke wanted to relocate medical offices in northern Durham, so Northgate reached out to the University. 

Bowman noted that Northgate is moving toward having more mixed uses as the retail industry continues to evolve. 

She added that she believes that Duke Health’s expansion will have a significantly positive impact because as many as 1,000 people will be flowing through the building every day. Bowman has not yet received negative responses about the purchase. Instead, she said she believes all the stores at Northgate are excited about the renovation to help re-energize the area.

“I think Duke’s terrific reputation and the fact that they're bringing world-class medical care here is the biggest benefit. With their international brand, great reputation and standing in the community, we're really excited about the opportunity to work with them,” Bowman said. 

Sarah Torian, owner of Sara’s Too Boutique in Northgate, expressed excitement toward Duke Health’s expansion into the mall because there will be more traffic. She said she is not worried about rising property values. 

“I wish they could open up next week. It would be nice if they could open portions up soon,” Torian said.

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that Bowman said she believed that as many as 1,000 Duke workers would flow through Northgate, not 100.