By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Nov 28, 2017 at 3:45 PM

Milwaukee Ald. Chantia Lewis applauded news this afternoon that Penzeys Spices owner William Penzey will transfer ownership of the former Boston Store at Northridge to the City of Milwaukee for potential redevelopment into light industrial space.

That redevelopment would fit into a plan for the Granville area that also includes creating a public plaza with what the city calls "neighborhood-oriented stores and restaurants" at the northwest corner of the intersection of 76th Street and Brown Deer Road.

Lewis said the move "sets the table" for future projects at the former mall site on the far Northwest Side of the city, according to a statement issued Tuesday.

The property – which includes the former mall-anchoring department store and its parking lot, which total about 300,000 square feet – sits within Lewis’ 9th Aldermanic District.

Penzeys had originally planned to convert the 150,000-square foot department store space – which it purchased in 2013 for $250,000, according to the Milwaukee Journal – for its own use. When the Wauwatosa-based company was unable to purchase the rest of the mall, those plans fell through.

The mall, now owned by the Chinese U.S. Black Spruce Enterprise Group, closed in 2003. The hope is that redevelopment of the former Boston Store property, along with other projects underway or planned for the area, will help kickstart the moribund, nearly 1 million-square foot mall itself.

"None of this would be happening if not for the generosity and thoughtfulness of Bill Penzey," Lewis said in the statement. "Penzey’s is a great community partner, and I am looking forward to more development at Northridge and across Granville.

"We have been building toward a future of revitalization in Granville that picked up steam with the great work of the charette earlier this year, and this move allows us to pivot in a new direction and one that can be the catalyst in bringing in some key initial projects and growth. It’s very exciting."

The city is expected to begin marketing the property to potential developers by early next year, according to the statement from the city.

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 has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.