Future of Northridge Mall still up in the air ahead of Friday decision

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- We could know more about the future of the Northridge Mall property as soon as this Friday, Nov. 18.

That's when the Milwaukee Circuit Court is requiring U.S. Black Spruce Enterprises, the owners of the mall, to put forth a plan to raze the property.

As the fine against U.S. Black Spruce Enterprises nears $200,000, there's still no word on if or when we could see changes here.

Last Friday, the courts said the property is still not properly secured.

Commercial property experts say it's time to admit the future here isn't retail.

"Right now, it's just a blight," said president of The Barry Company, Jim Barry, when talking about the property.

His company has dealt with commercial real estate in Milwaukee for over 100 years.

In the 1970s, when the mall opened, it was a thriving retail center, with Highway 145 planned to connect the mall to highway access.

That never happened.

"The idea of an enclosed shopping mall being a destination, place to go, fell out of favor," said Barry.

Barry says since the mall closed nearly two decades ago, there have been multiple attempts to redevelop the property into new retail opportunities.

"We were involved at one time, and one of those initiatives, and it just was very, very difficult to do that," said Barry.

He says he isn't sure why U.S. Black Spruce Enterprises has let the situation go on for as long as it has, as it's likely costing them money.

"To me it's baffling," said Barry. "I just don't know."

He says for him, and many other commercial real estate experts, tearing down the property and redeveloping as industrial land is the most profitable and viable outcome for the property, even though he says it would be costly.

"But I don't know what the alternative is," commented Barry.

Barry pointed to the nearby Bradley Woods Industrial Park, which is expanding.

He says if this slowly rotting limbo can be ended, it would be positive for the community.

"If there are larger forces, like the city, who can force something to be done, it's going to be a net positive," said Barry. "It's going to add tax base to the city, it's going to add jobs, it's going to keep industrial firms here that might decide to move elsewhere if they don't have developable land."

Which is why he's invested in seeing what decision comes out Friday.

"Some definition on the direction that it's going is going to be a positive development," said Barry.

The city of Milwaukee is also going to present a plan for razing the property here sometime next week.

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