Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Deal on The Couture Pending

Common Council will review revised agreement for $188 million tower Friday morning.

By - Mar 18th, 2021 04:56 pm
The Couture. Rendering by RINKA.

The Couture. Rendering by RINKA.

Common Council President Cavalier Johnson and City Attorney Tearman Spencer appear to have come to an agreement on how to proceed with The Couture, a proposed, $188 million, 44-story apartment tower for 909 E. Michigan St.

Spencer had been refusing to sign a revised development agreement which would provide developer Barrett Lo Visionary Development with an investor liability shield in exchange for a $100,000 donation to an anti-displacement fund for homeowners near downtown overseen by the non-profit MKE United. The attorney, in multiple letters to the council, argued that the council overstepped its authority by superseding the Department of City Development and adding the donation provision.

The revised agreement is viewed by multiple sources as the final impediment to the building’s construction. Investors, according to emails obtained by Urban Milwaukee, had balked at closing on the deal without a liability shield to protect against the city suing the investors if the federal government clawed back a $14.2 million grant that would fund a streetcar extension running through the building’s base. The city has until summer 2022 to complete the streetcar line.

A special meeting of the Common Council has been called for Friday at 9 a.m.

The council will consider a revised agreement with two key differences.

One, the council and Spencer will jointly select an outside attorney to review the legality of the council’s action.

Two, Barrett Lo will place the $100,000 into an escrow account until outside counsel makes its determination. The funds will be refunded if the outside attorney determines the provision of the agreement to be invalid.

The special counsel is to complete their work within 90 days of being hired.

Spencer and Mayor Tom Barrett, no relation to the developer, are expected to sign off on the revised agreement.

For more on the disagreement, see our article from Wednesday.


2 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Deal on The Couture Pending”

  1. Johnstanbul says:

    This guy is a clown. I maintain my statement that I will eat my hat if this building is ever built.

  2. maryglass says:




    This project like the Milwaukee Bucks/Fiserv – Cheaper to Keep Them, can fleece us with the arbitrary and capricious votes of the city council and signature of the mayor.

    There is an African Proverb that says, “When there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do you no harm”.

    Unchecked behavior and seemingly “conflict of interest” is at play here.

    It also appears that our city council has failed us in due diligence with a quick-fix solution tantamount to a form of smoke and mirrors with an unanimous vote agreement by the entire common council that can give the appearance of TRUSTWORTHINESS.

    IT IS REFRESHING TO SEE THAT CITY ATTORNEY SPENCER realize we are WATCHING his performance and want all at the table with accountability – mayor, common council, DCD commissioner, and Barrett Lo real estate development.

    This project is asking for framework financing to the minimum tune of $188 million with quite a bit of federal funding (plus $103.5 million federal loan), waiver of clawback FUNDING, $19.5 million TIF city funding, and failed start date February 1, 2021.

    What do MILWAUKEEANS get?

    We surely can not believe the BIG promise of EMPLOYMENT, the idea floated by Council President Cavalier Johnson.

    Gainful employment for MILWAUKEEANS in these huge projects have been a continuous disgrace with Caucasian OUTLYERS from near and far.

    The huge developments have been a BAIT & SWITCH outcome for decades.

    We expect City Attorney Spencer to remember, ” he took an OATH to represent democracy for MILWAUKEEANS in the 96.8 square miles boundaries”.

    May SUCCESS be his/OURS on n the Friday STRATEGIC meeting with other Charter OFFICERS.

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