Owner security

Northridge Mall security ordered, Friday deadline passes

A Milwaukee County judge has ruled Friday, Aug. 19, as the deadline for Northridge Mall owners to hire security guards after a number of suspected break-ins and arson attacks.

SKYFOX showed the Milwaukee Fire Department, city officials and attorney Black Spruce, the landlord, all entering the building on Friday afternoon for a guided tour.

A judge on Monday ordered Black Spruce to hire 24/7 security to clean the site and close any doors or windows. Failure to comply with this order will result in daily fines of $2,000. A city official said the Department of Neighborhood Services is preparing a report based on Friday’s inspection to deliver to the judge next week.

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Milwaukee city leaders who entered the mall on Friday said no obvious changes had been made. Huge pieces of the fence are still missing.

“It would be difficult to say exactly what has improved,” Fire Chief Aaron Lipski said. “I should have scanned every inch of this place compared to what I’ve done before. It’s hard for me to say anything has been done.”

Abandoned Northridge Mall, Milwaukee

The city says the property is a safety hazard. Intruders started four fires there between July 16 and August 10. In 2019, a maintenance worker was electrocuted on site.

“There are huge unventilated spaces in the lower levels of this building. These spaces are particularly difficult to access if the combustibles are on fire,” Lipski said.

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Milwaukee issued shaving orders in 2019. Black Spruce sued the city to block the orders, which have since been blocked on appeal. For now, a court date is in October; this is when the judge will review the shaving order.

Black Spruce’s attorney, Christopher Kloth, did not return calls from FOX6 News Fridy. Lipski said Kloth was involved in Friday’s inspection.

The mall opened 40 years ago – but it closed in 2003. In early June 2019, Black Spruce released renderings with plans to turn the property into an Asian marketplace, hoping to reopen the facility in spring 2021, but those plans never materialized.

Abandoned Northridge Mall, Milwaukee

Statement from Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson:

“Representatives from my administration are at the Northridge site today observing and documenting compliance with court orders. I remain extremely concerned about the dangers Milwaukee firefighters face from the repeated fires at this location. Safety is the main concern I have with the conditions at the old mall.”

City Development Department statement:

“The future of Northridge is important to the entire city. Public safety is the city’s top priority in Northridge. A City of Milwaukee contractor regularly checks the exterior and interior of the former Boston-owned store the city to make sure the building is safe. We’re doing our part.”