The Couture Developer Applies For Federal Loan Guarantee
Barrett Lo claims it has raised necessary funding to access critical guarantee.
Barrett Lo Visionary Development has taken the next step in its efforts to develop a 44-story, $122 million apartment tower on Milwaukee’s lakefront.
The firm has reapplied for a federal loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to support The Couture. The guarantee would serve as insurance on the project’s largest loan.
The application is for a “direct-to-firm” commitment, which would allow Barrett Lo to skip the pre-approval process.
The firm previously received an invitation to apply for a firm commitment in November 2018, but was unable to raise the necessary equity to access the guarantee by a July 2019 deadline. A source familiar with the project said HUD increased the amount of equity that was required as part of the review.
“Earlier this month, we secured the equity funding needed to advance the project and resubmitted our project to HUD. This week, we received a formal invitation letter from HUD and look forward to working closely with them as they review the project,” said developer Rick Barrett in a June statement.
A formal application was submitted on Tuesday. Once certified as complete, HUD has 60 days to review the application and forward it its National Loan Committee for a formal commitment or rejection.
The Couture is planned to include over 300 apartments and 40,000 square feet of commercial space. It would be located on a two-acre site at 909 E. Michigan St. between the U.S. Bank Center and lakefront festival grounds.
“We believe the City and County deserve an extraordinary building on this extraordinary site. We are not willing to settle for less for the community we love. As we have said throughout this process, we are working tirelessly to make this iconic, transformative building a reality,” said Barrett in June.
The developer bought the site at 909 E. Michigan St. from Milwaukee County for $500,000 in 2016. The below-market price was intended to account for the cost of demolishing the Downtown Transit Center structure on the two-acre site. The company, through contractor J&H Findorff & Son Inc. and Viet & Co., demolished the Downtown Transit Center in late 2016.
Findorff, a union contractor, will construct the tower. Because of the city financing, the contractor will have to hire unemployed or underemployed city residents for 40 percent of the project’s work hours as well as city-certified disadvantaged small businesses for 25 percent of the project’s work.
RINKA is leading the tower’s design. Robert W. Baird & Co. joined the project to assist with raising additional equity.
On May 13th, a Department of City Development official said to hold off until late June before issuing legislative action. “We believe late June we will have an announcement,” said Lori Lutzka, DCD special projects manager.
Barrett said in May 2019 he was working to raise the remaining $15 million in equity needed to fulfill a federal requirement to access a loan guarantee. As of November 2018 it was reported he had raised $25 million already.
The city has agreed to contribute $17.5 million to the project through a tax-incremental financing district to support the construction of a streetcar and bus terminal in the building’s base as well as a three-story public atrium. An additional $2 million was added to the public financing package to pay for relocation of a previously undocumented 48-inch-wide sewer that runs through the site.
The tower was first proposed in response to a county request-for-qualifications process in 2012.
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- Eyes on Milwaukee: Couture to Start Construction in January - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 23rd, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: The Couture Developer Applies For Federal Loan Guarantee - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 5th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: The Couture Developer Secures Financing - Jeramey Jannene - Jun 26th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Is A Couture Deal Finally Coming? - Jeramey Jannene - May 13th, 2020
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Still No Deal For The Couture. Yet - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 11th, 2019
- Plats and Parcels: NBA Player Plans Downtown Apartments - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 13th, 2019
- Transportation: Couture Streetcar Extension Decision Pushed to June 2020 - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 2nd, 2019
- Transportation: City Struggles on Couture Streetcar Extension - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 12th, 2019
- MKE County: Supervisors Question Couture Project - Graham Kilmer - Sep 11th, 2019
- Plats and Parcels: The Couture Getting New Signage - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 25th, 2019
Read more about Couture here