Northridge Mall (Milwaukee)

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Northridge Mall
LocationMilwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Coordinates43°10′56″N 088°0′36″W / 43.18222°N 88.01000°W / 43.18222; -88.01000Coordinates: 43°10′56″N 088°0′36″W / 43.18222°N 88.01000°W / 43.18222; -88.01000
Opening dateAugust 14, 1972
Closing date2003
DeveloperTaubman Centers, Inc.
OwnerU.S. Black Spruce Enterprise Group Inc.
No. of anchor tenants0 (4 at peak)
Total retail floor area800,000 sq ft (74,322 m2)
No. of floors2

Northridge Mall was a shopping mall located in the northern part of Milwaukee, Wisconsin that first opened in August 1972.


Opening and Initial Success[edit]

The Grand Opening occurred in August 1972, two years after its sister mall, Southridge Mall opened in 1970. Both were financed and owned by Senator Herb Kohl and part of the Taubman Centers. Northridge Mall was co-developed with the nearby Northridge Lakes development, a residential development consisting of a mix of inventive multi-family residences, in concert with a planned northern beltline freeway which would have connected the area to the rest of the Milwaukee area. The pioneering mall was planned and designed as a regional center, consisting of a two level mall with four anchors: J. C. Penney, Sears, Boston Store, and Gimbels, along with a United Artists Theatres triplex (eventually expanded to six screens). Marshall Field's came to the mall in 1987, as part of their acquisition of 5 former Gimbels stores.[1]

In 1992, Jesse Anderson stabbed his wife to death in the parking lot of a TGI Friday's near the mall, claiming two African-American men had attacked the couple and stabbed his wife to death; it was later revealed he fabricated a false alibi. He and Jeffrey Dahmer were killed by an inmate in the Columbia Correctional Institution in 1994.[2]

The mall declined within the decade after, as the freeway revolts of the 1970s ended up cancelling the north freeway intended to complete the Milwaukee beltline, leaving those intending to go to Northridge on miles of the surface street Brown Deer Road from Interstate 43 and U.S. 41/45 to access the mall; other closer shopping options had been developed in the ensuing decades along the completed freeways in formerly rural areas, and the Brown Deer strip in each direction from the mall had developed a number of disparate and cluttered retail developments with very little continuity or theming. Crime around the general area also increased to a smaller extent, but alarmism of those crimes in what was a suburban area in the local media, along with the lingering effects of the Anderson case despite its resolution, decreased the mall's clientele, as suburban shoppers chose other options such as Mayfair, Brookfield Square, and newly developed power center shopping options in Mequon, Menomonee Falls, and Grafton. The final blow to the mall was the early 2000s recession, which saw a number of tenants pull out after their lease expirations and the mall's owner unable to find new ones outside of local small businesses. The mall eventually closed in 2003.[2]

The Northridge Lakes development also ran into complexities involving the local real estate market, which preferred single-family detached homes over apartment developments, forcing its ownership to lower their rents and take in a more traditional apartment clientele than the high-end market it intended to market to.

Revitalization attempts[edit]

The former Sears store was razed, and a Menards home improvement store and Pick 'n Save supermarket occupied the site. Also, a Value City furniture store moved into a portion of the old Boston Store building, but closed in May 2009. The rest of the mall remains vacant.

As of August 2013, William Penzey of Penzeys Spices had announced plans to purchase the mall for use in Penzeys Spices operations.[3][4] In April 2014, the Chinese investment company which purchased the mall, U.S. Black Spruce Enterprise Group, retained ownership by making a last minute payment halting a foreclosure auction that might have allowed Penzeys Spices to take ownership of the property.[5] That ownership has alleged plans for a large-scale Asian marketplace mall and office complex, but no plans or permit approvals have been advanced to Milwaukee's city council for the new concept, and the city has been able to maintain little communication with the building's ownership, outside of refusals to cooperate with any alternate plans for the building and payments to avoid the city taking eminent domain over the property.

In September 2014, Pick n Save announced it would be closing its store at Northridge Mall. After the Pick n Save closed, only a Menards store remained at the site.[6]

The mall has been used for airsoft events since its abandonment. Many of these events have featured popular Airsoft players such as Airsoft Alfonse[7] In 2018, the mall was rented out to MIR Tactical,[8] an airsoft store and event promoter, to host an airsoft game called the "Milwaukee Offensive".[9]

On April 11, 2019, the City of Milwaukee issued a demolition order for the mall.[10] On the evening of July 22, 2019 a maintenance contractor was fatally electrocuted while investigating an open fuse box at the mall.[11]

The demolition order was approved by a judge of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court on May 13, who ruled that the mall was dangerous.[12]


  1. ^ "Fields to open five stores". Kenosha News. October 7, 1986. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Tarnoff, Andy (4 January 2012). "Inside a ghost mall: Northridge sits quietly, unknown future ahead". Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  3. ^ Vogel Davis, Stacy (May 9, 2013). "City of Milwaukee officials 'thrilled' about pending Northridge purchase". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  4. ^ Daykin, Tom (August 16, 2013). "Penzey Northridge bid advances". Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on 14 May 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  5. ^ Gores, Paul (April 11, 2014). "Chinese firm makes payment, blocking Penzeys Spices' plans for former Northridge Mall". Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  6. ^ Bauter, Alison (12 September 2014). "Pick 'n Save closing another blow to Northridge". Milwaukee Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  7. ^ Airsoft Alfonse (2 March 2018). AIRSOFT IN AN ABANDONED SHOPPING MALL - Tokyo Marui HPA Mp7 Gameplay (YouTube). Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  8. ^ "THE MILWAUKEE OFFENSIVE MALL EVENT 2.0 - 06/30/18 - 07/01/18 - MiR Tactical". Retrieved 2021-02-13.
  9. ^ "THE MILWAUKEE OFFENSIVE MALL EVENT 3.0 - 03/30/19 - 03/31/19". MiR Tactical. 30 March 2019. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  10. ^ Dupont, Amy (11 April 2019). "'Dilapidated:' City orders demolition of former Northridge Mall". Fox 6 Now. Tribune Broadcasting Station. Archived from the original on 12 April 2019. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  11. ^ Durian, Tom (23 July 2019). "Family of man electrocuted at former Northridge Mall looking for answers". WTMJ-TV. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  12. ^ "Judge orders Northridge Mall can be demolished". CBS58. May 14, 2020. Retrieved 2020-05-17.

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