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‘We dodged a bullet:’ Portion of mall parking garage collapses in suburban Milwaukee

Officials say they believe no one was harmed in the accident

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A collapsed parking garage at Bayshore Mall in Glendale.
Emergency responders arrive at the scene of Bayshore Mall in Glendale after three floors of the parking garage collapsed early Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023. Evan Casey/WPR

A portion of a parking garage at Glendale’s Bayshore Mall collapsed early Thursday afternoon, but officials believe no one was injured.

Robert Whitaker, the fire chief of the North Shore Fire Department, said the third floor of the parking garage structure collapsed down at 12:15 p.m. Whitaker said he believes snow on the structure was one of the main factors behind the collapse. Many parts of the Milwaukee area accumulated about 2 inches of a heavy snow/sleet mix Wednesday night during a winter storm.

“We’re not positive snow was the cause of the collapse, but we like to think it’s involved,” Whitaker said.

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Three floors of the parking garage collapsed early Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at Bayshore Mall in Glendale.
Three floors of the parking garage collapsed early Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at Bayshore Mall in Glendale. Evan Casey/WPR

Two cars were heavily damaged by the collapse, but Whitaker said surveillance video indicated there was no one was around when the collapse occurred.

“We feel based on that video, and also talking to the owners of the two cars that are in the snow pile behind us, that there is no one in that space,” Whitaker said during a press conference following the incident.

Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy said he doesn’t have any concerns about other parking structures at the property, as several businesses and apartments are also located at Bayshore Mall. “We dodged a bullet on this one, we certainly did,” Kennedy said.

“I certainly don’t have any concerns about other structural problems on the property,” Kennedy added.

The parking structure was constructed in 2005. Kennedy said he wasn’t sure when the last inspection of the property was conducted, but he did say Bayshore Mall has their own engineer as well.

The Glendale building inspector was already at the mall Thursday, for a series of inspections at the apartment building, Kennedy said during the press conference.

“He came and walked around and looked at the property, and he felt confident enough that he could go back over to continue his inspection in the apartments,” Kennedy said.

Three floors of the parking garage collapsed early Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at Bayshore Mall in Glendale.
Three floors of the parking garage collapsed early Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023, at Bayshore Mall in Glendale. Evan Casey/WPR

Employees at Rocky Rococo who were working when the collapse occurred thought a car had hit the building they were working in, as they said they heard a loud “boom.”

First responders could be seen digging out several feet of snow at 1 p.m. They stopped about an hour later. Whitaker said that was to ensure that no one was beneath.

“Luckily, at this point, we have no injuries,” he said.

North Shore Fire Department fire chief Robert Whitaker speaks to reporters
North Shore Fire Department fire chief Robert Whitaker speaks to reporters about a parking garage that collapsed early Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023 at Bayshore Mall in Glendale. Evan Casey/WPR

Whitaker said the Milwaukee Fire Department Heavy Urban Rescue Team and Structure Collapse Unit will be working with Bayshore’s engineering firm and the manufacturer of the concrete slabs to make sure there’s no danger of future collapse.

Joan Rocamora lives at the apartments at Bayshore. She said there’s three total parking garages there.

“A lot of cars park here and a lot of people who work in the offices and buildings here will park here,” Rocamora said.

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