County Committee Mollified on Couture
Delay on 44-floor lakefront tower had been issue, but key supervisors now happy.
What a difference a few months make.
It was all smiles yesterday when Rick Barrett of Barrett Lo Visionary Development appeared before the Milwaukee County Board’s Economic and Community Development Committee, the same committee that caused a media firestorm when its members openly mused about ways to take back land the county sold to Barrett for his massive 44-story lakefront tower, The Couture.
Barrett informed the committee that the project had jumped “a very important hurdle,” now that it secured preliminary approval from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development for a loan guarantee for part of the $120 million financing package. Barrett is “moving towards” closing his financing deal for The Couture, a process that typically takes five to six months, he said.
Barrett said there is some work to be done at the site in the meantime. Specifically, relocating a sewer pipe to allow for construction to start.
That was a huge change from a meeting in September, when the committee received an update on the project from Aaron Hertzberg, the Economic Development Director for the county, who noted that progress on the project was stalled, In response, a dismayed Weishan and Nicholson began discussing the county taking back the property and soliciting new project proposals or the taking some other action.
These statements soon erupted in the local media. Barrett was quoted in BizTimes saying their words were “detrimental” to the project and invited the supervisors to his office for a briefing on the project. Weishan left that meeting and was also quoted in BizTimes saying, “After speaking with Mr. Barrett, I got what I thought an appropriate update on the project. I wasn’t given any real timeline, but I’m confident they are working on the project and doing everything they can on their end.”
Weishan told Urban Milwaukee the concerns that arose in September were in part to blame on the committee being out of the loop on the project. “Our economic development department needed to be more proactive in sharing information with the board,” he said.
Nicholson could not be reached for comment. In a press release she said, “As Chair of the Committee on Economic Development, I want to extend my appreciation to Mr. Barrett for taking the time to appear before our committee and update us publicly on his project. We are counting on The Couture to provide good jobs for county residents and to ensure important contracts for disadvantaged business. I’m confident that Mr. Barrett will deliver on those commitments and excited to see this project get underway,”
Barrett has agreed to come before the committee quarterly to brief the committee on the project. Weishan added that these briefings are also for the public and the media, who have a right to know what’s going on in county business.
Late 2017 Renderings and Site Plans
Renderings Released for Design Approval
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Read more about Couture here