Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

City Seeks Bids To Demolish Portion of Northridge Mall

Move comes in advance of hearing to acquire and demolish the entire complex.

By - Mar 15th, 2023 04:45 pm
Former Boston Store at Northridge Mall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Former Boston Store at Northridge Mall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The City of Milwaukee is attempting to demonstrate its commitment to cleaning up the vacant Northridge Mall in advance of a pivotal hearing Friday.

“Today, the City of Milwaukee is issuing a public bid to raze the former Boston Store building at Northridge to reduce its liability as the property owner, and demonstrate for nearby residents and businesses that we are doing our part to address this nuisance,” said a city spokesperson in a statement.

The city took ownership of the attached Boston Store building in 2017, but has yet to secure control of the larger mall complex. Since 2019 it has sought to legally pressure the mall’s owners, U.S. Black Spruce Enterprise Group, to fix up or demolish the blighted property. In January it drastically increased its ask, requesting Judge William Sosnay to transfer ownership of the property to the city as a settlement for Sosnay’ contempt order against Black Spruce. The city had previously sought to avoid taking immediate ownership because it did not have the money to demolish the structure and preferred for Black Spruce to complete the court-mandated demolition.

City officials previously estimated the cost to clear the 46.5-acre site and approximately 900,000-square-foot mall at $15 million. The bid request released Wednesday by the Department of Neighborhood Services requests applicants to submit a cost to demolish just the attached, 152,727-square-foot department store, 7700 W. Brown Deer Rd. Responses are due April 13.

The Boston Store demolition, says the bid document, would be funded by a grant from the American Rescue Plan Act. The city received $394.2 million from the federal government, but has used much of it to plug budget shortfalls.

City Attorney Tearman Spencer‘s January court filing says the city has identified a time-sensitive funding source to demolish the entire mall. Sosnay is expected to review that request Friday morning.

“Local residents, families, and businesses have waited long enough and deserve better. The City of Milwaukee agrees, so we are taking action where we can to advance progress at the former Northridge site in protecting public safety and working to realize the full future potential of the neighborhood,” said the city in its statement Wednesday.

Bill Penzey, owner of Penzey’s Spices, bought the former Boston Store building in 2013 and attempted to acquire the rest of the mall, with the support of the city, for a corporate headquarters and warehouse for his company. He wasn’t able to reach a deal on acquiring the mall and donated the Boston Store property. The city also acquired the ring road that surrounds the mall. The city de-energized (disconnected electrical service) the property in 2018 and completed asbestos abatement in 2021.

Northridge opened in 1972 and closed in 2003.

August 2022 Photos

April 2019 Photos

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