Second Lakefront Tower Coming?
Barrett-Lo has made plans for second tower next to The Couture.
The Couture, the proposed $122 million, 44-story lakefront apartment tower, is being designed to have an attached, neighboring tower. Barrett-Lo Visionary Development, the firm developing The Couture at 909 E. Michigan St., is designing the apartment tower and its mixed-use base in a way that will allow for a second tower on the site. Design documents recently filed with the city detail the first tower’s ellipse-shaped footprint on the northeast corner of the site and show an area at the southwest corner of the site that leaves space for the foundation of a second tower.
Sources confirm that Barrett-Lo is actively planning the second tower in partnership with tower architect Rinka Chung Architecture. What remains unclear is the second tower’s use and height. While the apartment market might not stay hot long enough to continue to absorb hundreds of new units a year, the demand for hotel rooms Downtown remains strong as evidenced by the numerous proposals for new hotels. The Couture was originally proposed to include a 180-room hotel, but that was portion of the proposal was ultimately dropped in favor of more apartments.
Other features in the building’s design offers more evidence that Barrett-Lo is working on a new tower. The complex is substantially over-parked. The proposed 314-unit apartment tower would include 975 parking spaces, with 450 underground, far exceeding the standard ratio of just over one stall per-unit seen in many new apartment projects. Barrett-Lo will likely have no problem leasing the spaces in the short term to nearby office tenants at the 833 East building and US Bank Center as well as the tower’s commercial tenants, but will maintain the flexibility to build a second tower without needing to pay for costly additional parking.
Plans for the three-level underground garage show the garage filling almost the entirety of the approximately two-acre site, except for a large section in the southwest corner and along an existing sewer line on the site’s western edge. The sewer line will be relocated as part of the project, but the untouched underground space is approximately the size of the core of the the first tower. Only the above ground parking garage is above the untouched underground section. This would leave Barrett-Lo with the ability to build the foundation of the second tower with minimal disruption.
The design for the building’s base and first tower are scheduled for hearings before the City Plan Commission and Common Council this month. The second tower would need additional approvals.
If construction begins this year, the tower could be completed in early 2020, almost eight years after the county originally selected Barrett’s firm and ultimately wound up in a lawsuit regarding the legality of developing the site. This isn’t the first time Barrett has had to wait to build a tower in Milwaukee; the bold developer spent years seeking finance for the 30-story The Moderne on N. Old World Third St. before completing the project in 2013.
Renderings as of 3/3/2017
Earlier Renderings & Designs
Amenities at The Couture
The final design documents for The Couture show a wealth of amenities for future residents and the public at the proposed luxury apartment tower. In addition to the covered transit concourse in the middle of the site, numerous commercial and public spaces are planned as well as an extension of the Oak Leaf Trail. Residents will enjoy outdoor decks on the fourth and 40th floors.
The two-story transit concourse will split the building’s three-story base, connecting E. Michigan St. with recently overhauled E. Clybourn St. On the west side of the base will be the 525-stall above-ground parking structure. The east side will include the apartment lobby along E. Michigan St. as well as a three-story public area that includes numerous commercial spaces as well as a marquee restaurant stalls overlooking Lake Michigan on the third floor. The second floor includes publicly accessible planned bridges to O’Donnell Park to the north, the Lakefront Gateway Park to the east (being designed in part by Rinka Chung) and a potential southern bridge to the proposed Johnson Controls office tower. The third floor space also includes an outdoor terrace for restaurants overlooking the lake, as well as an outdoor area atop the transit concourse that includes a publicly-accessible park component and a secured dog-run for tenants.
The fourth floor has six units, floors 5-24 have nine units per-floor, floors 25-39 have eight units and floors 40-43 have two units apiece. The 44th floor has two units, each with a penthouse loft space above. All of the units aside from the three per floor that face straight west have balconies.
Documents show a substantially widened sidewalk along N. Lincoln Memorial Dr. that will serve as an extension of the Oak Leaf Trail which currently terminates abruptly at E. Michigan St. This will allow cyclists to access the new bike lanes on E. Clybourn St. and help facilitate better bicycle and pedestrian access to the Historic Third Ward. A water feature and outdoor plaza is planned for the area near the tower’s base at E. Michigan St. and N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.
Update – Comment from Developer
Rick Barrett issued the following statement Friday at 5:00 p.m.
Right now, we’re purely focused on The Couture, the excitement of this empty space in front of us, and everything that’s to come for the development in 2017.”
Past Coverage and Press Releases
- Transit Center Tower Demolition – January 8th, 2017
- Goodbye Downtown Transit Center – December 30th, 2016
- The Couture is Finally Happening – August 11th, 2016
- City Approves Bus Rapid Transit – July 26th, 2016
- County Executive Chrisx Abele Announces Major Milestone in Couture Project – April 4th, 2016
- Lakefront Gateway Design Winner Named – October 27th, 2015
- Abele Statement on Today’s Ruling Allowing Couture Construction – June 26th, 2015
- Supervisors Announce Support for Couture Project – December 8th, 2014
- New Front Door for Lakefront – March 11th, 2013
- County Threatened with Lakefront Lawsuit – July 24th, 2012
- The Couture Press Conference – July 16th, 2012
- Abele vs County Board – Again – July 12th, 2012
- 44-Floor Tower Proposed for Lakefront – July 11th, 2012