Safety concerns rise over vacant Montgomery Ward building in Panorama City

"It's becoming very concerning as a citizen to see this property being utilized in a way that is dangerous," said a resident.

Sid Garcia Image
Thursday, May 18, 2023
Safety concerns rise over Montgomery Ward building in Panorama City
Residents who live near the empty building on Roscoe Boulevard say the building is becoming a graffiti-covered eyesore and say it's attracting squatters -- all near several schools.

PANORAMA CITY, Calif. (KABC) -- The old Montgomery Ward building in Panorama City has not only become an eyesore but a source of concern over who is minding the property, according to residents.

People like Alex Potapenko, who moved into the neighborhood a year ago, said they've seen the property on Roscoe Boulevard significantly deteriorate.

Potapenko is one of the residents who contacted Eyewitness News about his concerns.

"There was always some graffiti but now the second story of the building, you clearly see people that are in there and it's becoming very concerning as a citizen to see this property being utilized in a way that is dangerous," he said.

Right now, there's a hole in the chain link fence that surrounds the property and some where children walk across the parking lot.

While filming on Thursday, ABC7 saw young people wandering around the old department store.

"It's definitely concerning to see openings that weren't there originally," said Potapenko. "So people are clearly getting into the building by either cutting it open and I think my biggest concern here is that we are in walking distance of several schools."

The Los Angeles Police Department has said the building is a problem because it's abandoned and homeless people have moved in.

The company listed as working security at the property told Eyewitness News us they haven't worked there in 10 years. No documentation was found when ABC7 conducted a search on Thursday on who owns the property.

Montgomery Ward, which was once a leading department store chain, closed for good more than 20 years ago.

The property in Panorama City has been vacant ever since.

A few years ago, the Los Angeles City Council approved a $150 million renovation of the property that included retail space and hundreds of housing units.

However, labor unions fought against the development, citing pollution concerns.

Eyewitness News reached out to the city on updates regarding the property but has not received a response.