By Ethan Duran
Milwaukee officials have asked a county judge to give ownership of the former Northridge Mall to the city after years of ongoing litigation with the building’s Chinese owners, multiple reports showed.
Attorneys representing Milwaukee asked Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge William Sosnay to strip U.S. Black Spruce Enterprise Group’s title from the property and give it to the city, the Milwaukee Business Journal reported.
In a court filing, city attorneys said “the time to act is now” to raze the building before someone is seriously injured, MBJ reported.
Trespassers allegedly set fire to the building several times last summer, and fire department officials warned broken glass and a shoddy roof made firefighting conditions extremely dangerous.
Black Spruce submitted a plan to raze the building on Jan. 13, but the court told the owner to send in revised plans within one week, court records showed. The owner continues to pay $2,000 per day as the property remains unsecure and a motion hearing is set for March 17.
In previous court appearances, Sosnay found Black Spruce in contempt of the court and promised swift action. Meanwhile, city officials said they would need $15 million to tear down the building.
Black Spruce wanted to build an Asian market with the complex, but city reports found the site abandoned with minimal security and an abundance of garbage.
Former Alderwoman Chantia Lewis authored a motion with fellow aldermen to tear down the building in 2019, but Black Spruce appealed the order. A handyman’s electrocution death that year highlighted the city’s concerns over building safety.
The former mall was built in the early 1970s and closed in 2003. While the building stands empty, dozens of trespassers have posted their experiences exploring the complex in videos uploaded to YouTube and other platforms.