Jeramey Jannene

44-Floor Tower Proposed for Lakefront

A new 44-story tower proposed for Milwaukee.

By - Jul 11th, 2012 07:40 pm

Barrett Visionary Development is proposing a new 44-floor tower for the site currently occupied by the MCTS Downtown Transit Center. The 750,000 square-foot building would include a large parking garage as well as apartments and a hotel. We have previously opined that we think the facility is prime for redevelopment.

Barrett’s proposal was selected project by County Executive Chris Abele following a request for information issued on April 2nd.

Tower Details

  • Developer: Barrett Visionary, Rick Barrett, Principal
  • Architect: Rinka Chung Architecture, Inc., Matt Rinka
  • 180 hotel rooms
  • 179 apartments
  • 775 total parking spaces (395 for hotel, retail, and apartment users, 380 public spaces)
  • Estimated project cost of $125 million
  • 750,000 square feet
  • Floor 1: Retail/Restaurant Space & Lobby Area
  • Floor 2: Retail/Lobby Area/Mechanical
  • Floor 3-5: Parking
  • Floor 6: Ballroom and Conference Center
  • Floor 7: Amenity Floor/Pool/Rooftop Green Space
  • Floor 8-19: Hotel Rooms
  • Floor 20-44: Apartment Homes

Process Moving Forward

  1. Milwaukee County Board’s Committee on Economic and Community Development will need to approve negotiations with Barrett Visionary Development.
  2. The full Milwaukee County Board will either confirm the decision of the Economic and Community Development committee, or overrule the committees action.
  3. An agreement between the County and Barrett Visionary Development would need to be voted on by the County Board.
  4. The site is expected to take 10 to 16 months to prepare. This includes relocate MCTS operations to an area near the Milwaukee Intermodal Station.
  5. Once Barrett Visionary Development has legal control of the site, the City of Milwaukee City Plan Commission (CPC) would likely see the proposal to recommend a zoning change.
  6. The City of Milwaukee Common Council Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee (ZND) would see the proposal after CPC to approve a Detailed Planned Development (DPD). The Public Works Committee may also need to review any public infrastructure changes to the area.
  7. The full Milwaukee Common Council would get to take up the proposed DPD after ZND. The Mayor would need then to sign off on the Council’s decision.
  8. Following all approvals, construction would take up to 28 months.

Rendering Gallery


24 thoughts on “44-Floor Tower Proposed for Lakefront”

  1. Anon says:

    Are they proposing to call this building “The Couture?”. Please say it isn’t so. That name is awful. It’s 2012, not 1993.

  2. Garrick Jannene says:

    Is there not already quite a bit of empty retail space in the downtown area? The retail space in this project seems quite neat, but I wonder who would actually be ready to use it.

  3. sonja rein says:

    Do we really need another tower on the lake front? Cant we have something more interesting?

  4. GT says:

    How about “The Phallus”? Seriously though, thanks for posting. It’s amazing how the JS, BizTimes, BizJournal, et al. will run a story on a massive project like this and only include one thumbnail jpg of the proposed building.

  5. Jeff says:

    The tower is gorgeous. How often can you say that about a building in Milwaukee? I know that there are legitimate concerns about a project of this size, at that location, but the negativity in other comments is so Milwaukee: “Milwaukee can’t support that.” “Milwaukee’s too conservative for that.” “Nothing else, ever, at the lakefront.” Ad nauseum.

  6. getch says:

    This looks like a great addition to the lakefront, and it seems to have good access to the lakefront, with the multiple over-road crosswalks and a lot of hidden parking. Since the county board feels left out, with Abele not including them on the process, I feel like this will not get done.( I hope I am wrong.) In addition with the talk about eliminating highway ramps, reconfiguration, would that delay the project if it does get approved from the county board? Why not a couple of condo’s on the top floors, it would be prime, maybe Barrett is having difficult time selling the condo’s at the Moderne location. It seems according to Moderne website, none of the units have sold since they are all listed.

  7. Chris says:

    Very nice tower. And Jeff couldn’t have said it better. The negative comments are so depressingly Milwaukee. So glad to see such an optimistic proposal for what’s arguably the best piece of real estate in the entire State. Also a great use. Milwaukee absolutely needs more high end apartment units, especially along the lake. The hotel is a no-brainer.

  8. Jerad says:

    @ Sonja

    Are you joking?

  9. Dave Reid says:

    @GT Shh don’t let them know!:)

  10. Tyrell Track Master says:

    Rock and roll!!! I love this – not only for the building but for how this starts to improve that nightmare interchange just to the south. Bring it on.

    ONe question – what gets developed right behind it? There was talk of an 18 story building there.. Would be silly to have them so close together.

  11. gleiss says:

    The proposal is a great project. The combination of uses allows for some synergies in the building program. Also, it is nice to see something of an appropriate mass and scale for lakefront development rather than a modest/timid proposal.

    My only concern is really the pedestrian bridges. Typically, we want people walking on the sidewalk, not separate duplicative pathways. This ensures a critical mass of people for activating the street as well as for making clear that downtown is a pedestrian priority zone rather than focusing on how quickly we can move the cars in and out.

    Good effort, with a few tweaks, this can be a fantastic project that improves the entire area.

  12. Juan Milwaukee says:

    I LOVE this building. It will be amazing on the lakefront and be beautiful on skyline shots of our city. Please elected officials, make this happen. What an incredible addition to our lakefront. It’s progressive and awesome. I can’t wait to see this rise.

  13. xs says:

    I love it! Can we see some more of these in Milwaukee’s skyline? We a major city now. We got to start looking major so we can get major corporations and economic development. And we all know that create jobs, which we need right now.

  14. Jared Leto says:

    I love this project but think Milwaukee is getting too many white colored buildings, especially along the lakefront. It’d be nice to see something modern without defaulting to white. I also don’t think “The Couture” is in good taste. Pretty lame name actually. Though this project would be awesome for Milwaukee definitely. Almost would love it a little more downtown than on the Lakefront, but for now, exciting news.

  15. This is both a passion and an obsession of mine since childhood. This proposal for the “Couture” is wonderful. It’s very inspiring to see such vision and progressive thinking in Milwaukee especially in this economic climate. Milwaukee is a great and wonderful place. Let’s build buildings that inspire. Let’s build buildings that say WOW!!! And let’s tell Northwestern Mutual that we love them and need them to remain as much a part of downtown as possible. Who knows, maybe they will build the new tallest building in Milwaukee.

  16. RC says:

    I agree with @Jare Leto. I like the building and idea but Milwaukee has a fair amount of white buildings including the University Club Tower, the US Bank Building, the new Moderne, the Breakwater, the Cudahy Tower. They are all nice buildings but lets bring some glass to Milwuakee, something that is modern and different from the rest. Just my opinion and food for thought. Still love the project though.

  17. Todd says:

    I’d like to see the city take advantage of this opportunity and use the redevelopment to rethink how the Oak Leaf Trail could be remapped to go down Clybourn. The current route is very ambiguous and gets lopped off along Harbor Drive during Summerfest.

  18. Daniel says:

    Meh. Double Meh, actually. We’re Milwaukee, not Dubai. And unlike the Calatrava which everyone can use, this will be literally another “Ivory Tower” that not only lives up to it’s imagery but it’s name, in that only a select few with flowing cash flow can use. Meh. Just as long as taxes don’t pay for it, what do commoners like I care?

  19. Juli Kaufmann says:

    @Todd I could not agree more! That area is totally jacked up for bike commuting. There is a complete lack of effective transition as the off-road trail ends at the War Memorial. The bike route from the War Memorial north is amazingly ideal, with continuous off-road options. The route to the south, once you get yourself to Summerfest is also great, with solid on-street routes, most with bike lanes. Its just that lost area for about 2 key blocks and 2 key intersection exchanges right at the redevelopment site / Art museum where everything gets messed up. Its almost the equivalent of a bike dead-end. Sure, you can navigate around or through it, but it ruins what is an otherwise near-perfect north south run.

  20. Dave Reid says:

    @Daniel I’m pretty sure the designs show a plaza area which I believe will have retail / entertainment options.

  21. Dave Reid says:

    @Juli Not perfect for commuting (out of the way) but there is a great trail that takes you through Lakeshore State Park and then drops you off on Erie St. which does have bike lanes…

  22. nader pakroo says:

    I hate all these rich a-holes who come into my bar and brag about building these high rises as a monument to there egos..This city is for low class drunks and a building like this doesn’t give that impression…Why can’t we just put another bar on this site so that I and my loser freinds have another place to drink 7 nights a week..Nader P.

  23. Daniel Getchel says:

    How about some color for this building since it is near the lake.

    BORING white building next to the white bank one building. Come on!!!!

  24. Daniel Getchel says:

    See. There are other people that don’t like the white sterile color besides me!

    Too many white buildings along the lakefront already.
    Show a rendering of the same building with blue on the horizontal and show us. Break up the white.

    Come on Chung! Get with it!!!

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