Jeramey Jannene

City Struggles on Couture Streetcar Extension

As project drags, officials to meet with Federal Transit Administration to discuss options.

By - Sep 12th, 2019 10:44 am
The Couture Rendering. Rendering by Rinka Chung Architecture.

The Couture Rendering. Rendering by Rinka Chung Architecture.

The delay in starting construction on The Couture is causing issues beyond just the development of the 44-story apartment tower along the lakefront.

An extension of The Hop, paid for almost entirely with a federal grant, is required to start operating by the end of 2020 and is planned to run through the base of the proposed building at 909 E. Michigan St.

The idea, part of a plan by city and county officials to avoid having to pay the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) back for demolishing the former Downtown Transit Center, is for The Couture and eventually Milwaukee County’s East-West Bus Rapid Transit proposal to operate out of a three-story concourse at the base of the high-end apartment tower. But Barrett Lo Visionary Development has been unable to secure the necessary equity financing for the project to start construction.

City Engineer Samir Amin said in June that the city would need to consider alternatives if the project had not broken ground by the end of August.

The August deadline came and went, with the only news being that Barrett Lo replaced the signage at the two-acre site as part of a financing push with Robert W. Baird & Co.

In response, Alderman Robert Bauman scheduled the matter for a hearing at the Common Council’s first Public Works Committee meeting in September. But Wednesday morning the committee had to hold the item because Amin and Department of Public Works (DPW) Commissioner Jeff Polenske are at a conference in Seattle. Bauman said they would appear at a future meeting.

“They are assembling a report to redirect the streetcar terminal away from The Couture,” said Bauman in announcing the file would not be heard Wednesday morning. He said city officials would soon meet with the FTA to discuss options.

“DPW and [the Department of City Develpoment] will be meeting with FTA later this month to discuss options with the Lakefront Line and any exploration of alternatives will be done in collaboration with Milwaukee County,” said DPW communications manager Brian DeNeve in a statement to Urban Milwaukee.

When will The Couture be built and when the streetcar extension ultimately be built? “Whether it’s next month, next year, or next decade, that’s hard to say,” said Bauman. Meanwhile, members of the county board have begun advocating for some other developer or project to replace Barrett Lo.

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Related Legislation: File 190352

More about the Couture

Read more about Couture here

More about the Milwaukee Streetcar

For more project details, including the project timeline, financing, route and possible extensions, see our extensive past coverage.

Read more about Milwaukee Streetcar here

Categories: Transportation

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