Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Couture Could Break Ground This Summer

Barrett Lo company reaffirms Findorff as general contractor.

By - Mar 26th, 2018 05:00 pm
The Couture as seen from the north. Rendering by Rinka Chung Architecture.

The Couture as seen from the north. Rendering by Rinka Chung Architecture.

The long-awaited apartment tower planned for 909 E. Michigan St. might get underway this summer. Developer Rick Barrett announced that his firm, Barrett Lo Visionary Development, has re-selected J.H. Findoff & Son Inc. which had done early work on The Couture, as general contractor for the huge project. The planned 44-story tower will include over 300 apartments and 40,000 square feet of commercial space.

In a statement, Barrett said “We’re excited to have completed site prep and be nearing the start of construction. Findorff has been a great partner for us and we look forward to working with them on the start of construction later this summer.”

Findorff previously led the demolition of Downtown Transit Center on the site, and has assisted in site preparation work. Signage at the site prominently features Findorff, and the firm developed Barrett’s other marquee project, The Moderne. Still, the firm’s future with the project had become unclear.

Corri Hess of BizTimes broke the news earlier this year that the project was being rebid. Sources close to the project have told Urban Milwaukee that although work with Findorff was previously progressing, the developer was struggling to get the construction budget to come in at an undisclosed amount.

“We couldn’t be prouder to work on this historic project,” said Eric Wynn of Findorff in a statement. “We’ve partnered with Rick Barrett and his team for years now, and we are excited to contribute to the next great building on our city’s skyline.”

A leasing flyer for the project’s commercial space on its lower levels, which includes a streetcar station and bus rapid transit line stop, was distributed by Mid-America Real Estate Group late last year.

Urban Milwaukee broke the news that a second tower is already in the early planning stages for the southwest corner of the site in March 2017.

Similar to the financing for 30-story condominium and apartment tower The Moderne, Barrett is pursuing a federal loan guarantee to help finance the project.

The project, first proposed in 2012, has undergone years of delays in large part due to a lawsuit involving Preserve Our Parks. The group contested the private development of publicly-owned land near Lake Michigan.

Assuming construction begins this summer, the tower would open in 2020. The tower is being designed by Rinka Chung Architecture.

Late 2017 Renderings and Site Plans

Renderings Released for Design Approval

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7 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Couture Could Break Ground This Summer”

  1. Joe says:

    Great pictures! Love the streetcar running through this place. Moving forward in Milwaukee.

  2. roz says:

    there is something so wrong about this building, who can live in it and who gets the benefit of it.

  3. A Prire says:

    All the makings of a world class development.
    Watching, anxiously awaiting this for the city.
    I hope for all, that this proceeds with insight and passion.
    This will display to visitors our clear vision.

  4. Sam says:

    I hope it happens. Wish it wasn’t white. Inject some color into our skyline please.

  5. tom says:

    Looking less likely this will ever happen. The groundbreaking has been pushed back and back and back.

  6. Cheryl says:

    For the record, the most recent legal actions noted in the article as cause for “delay”–in which POP was a DEFENDANT and with Milwaukee County and City of Milwaukee as PLAINTIFFS–sought to find the “line” where the public trust doctrine should be applied in the future to protect former lakebed properties that had been subsequently filled. The judge ruled that a portion of the property was lakebed, but that the government was able to abdicate their trust responsibilities in limited circumstances. That lawsuit ended in late June of 2015. So 3 years ago or thereabouts.

  7. Patricia Jursik says:

    I object to the cheap shot this author took regarding Preserve Our Parks (POP), criticizing them for Barrett’s delays. First, this case regarding Public Trust Doctrine took place over two years ago. Second, the case involved a Declaratory Judgment which meant the court was asked to weigh in on the issue of preserving land protected by this doctrine. This was required by a county board resolution since the Board had been informed that this was not an issue that had been resolved. Barrett was getting a sweet heart deal on lake front property as the only bidding contractor and basically well under fair market value, but the county required that Barrett clear this issue in court with a Declaratory Judgment. Third, once the court ruled that the Public Trust Doctrine would not apply since the land would still have a public use (public park along with public transit, both included in this project), Barrett was allowed to move forward. This satisfied the county requirement. POP did not appeal, and no delay was caused by this public interest advocate of public parks. Fourth and finally, this court case occurred nearly two years ago and fails to explain the long delays of this developer which I suspect has more to do with his delay in getting financing. But I have no inside track on that so it shall remain by surmise. Pat Jursik Former County Supervisor and in full disclosure, current POP member because most of us still care about advocating for public, open parks.

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