Northridge Mall's future still uncertain as raze order sits in Court of Appeals

NOW: Northridge Mall’s future still uncertain as raze order sits in Court of Appeals

MILWAUKEE CBS 58) -- The current owners of Northridge Mall and City of Milwaukee representatives were in circuit court Friday morning.

The hearing comes a month after we learned a Milwaukee company wants to buy the site and turn it into industrial space.

The city sees a different future, and decisions are still hanging in the balance for what seems to be a never-ending battle.

Regardless of new security measures on the property, an order to raze the building remains in effect, but on hold.

"This thing has gone on far too long," said Milwaukee County Judge William Sosnay.

Sosnay said Friday he'll only consider turning over the Northridge property to the City of Milwaukee after the court of appeals rules on the raze order.

"If I were to take that action, I would totally moot the appeal, and the substance of it," Sosnay explained.

The city is opposed to Phoenix Investors' offer to purchase the property.

Instead, the city wants to take ownership, raze and redevelop the area to benefit the community.

"Industrial development for job providing uses, and potentially housing or mixed use," testified Vanessa Koster, a commissioner from the Department of City Development.

Judge Sosnay made it clear that a raze order is still in effect, and if approved, current owners Black Spruce Enterprise may be responsible to make it happen.

"I am not taking my foot off the gas pedal in expecting you and your company to be prepared to carry out that order," Sosnay said to Black Spruce representatives Friday.

He also acknowledged the quickness that Phoenix Investors took to secure the property last month, adding lights, cameras, fencing, and 24-hour patrolling.

"As far as what phoenix has done in the very short term, they've completely turned that property around," said Christopher Kloth, an attorney representing Black Spruce.

Black Spruce had been incurring fines since 2019 for failing to secure the property under court order.

Sosnay reminded them Friday the property is still their responsibility.

Phoenix Investors' offer to purchase the property expires May 1.

"If, for some reason, or when Phoenix no longer decides to continue to do this, it is your obligation to continue and pick that up," Sosnay said.

Black Spruce filed an appeal brief Tuesday. The city has until May 11 to respond.

"The city stands ready and willing to raze the properties," said Odalo Ohiku, Deputy City Attorney for the City of Milwaukee.

The next circuit court hearing is scheduled for June 20.

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