By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Dec 08, 2023 at 12:21 PM Photography: Eron Laber

Gov. Tony Evers announced on Friday that today $15 million grant funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money from the federal government has been awarded to the City of Milwaukee to aid efforts redevelop the former Northridge Mall.

Northridge Mall opened in 1972 and closed 30 years later. While some of the former mall site was converted into retail properties, much of its sat vacant under the eye of private owners.

The property has long been a target for vandals and trespassers.

The grant will assist the efforts of the City of Milwaukee – which acquired part of the Northridge property and remains in court with the owner of the rest – to clean the site of environmental contaminants, relocate utilities and complete demolition work. It will also fund revitalization planning of the site and surrounding area.

“This project will remove a blighted property, address safety hazards, and clear the way for the site to be redeveloped into a significant asset for the community, bolstering growth and development for Milwaukee and our state," Evers said.

“This grant is only the latest example of how we are connecting the dots with our local and federal partners and working to build stronger, safer, and more prosperous communities across Wisconsin.”

The grant money comes from federal funds that have been earmarked for schools, small businesses, farms, health care, child care and other uses.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson speaks Friday outside the former Northridge Mall.

“I greatly appreciate the governor’s allocation of resources to address this significant problem,” said Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson in a statement issued by the governor's office.

“The property is a danger to our firefighters and trespassers. It is a deteriorating building that drags down the surrounding neighborhood. I look forward to finally solving the safety and blight issues associated with this property.”

A raze order has been issued for the site, but it is currently being appealed, according to Johnson.

"This has been a long process," the mayor said. "It has tested the patience of elected officials – of emergency responders – and it has certainly tested the patience of people who live nearby."

Johnson and area Ald. Larresa Taylor visited the site early Friday afternoon to comment further on the grant and, in the words of a city release, "offer their perspectives on this progress."

"With the governor’s help we are taking a big step forward," Johnson said at the site. "Using federal resources from the administration of President Joe Biden, there is new hope for this location."

Not long after the mall closed, OnMilwaukee got a tour of the then-shuttered shopping center. You can see that story here.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.