The Couture Marks Major Milestone: Invited to Firm Loan Commitment Stage of HUD Loan Guaranty Program
“This is a major milestone for The Couture that enables us to move forward with the final stage of financing,” said Rick Barrett.
MILWAUKEE – Barrett | Lo Visionary Development announced today that it has been invited to submit an Application for Firm Commitment for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) loan guaranty program. The loan guaranty will be used to support construction of The Couture, the 44-story, 700,000 square foot, mixed-use skyscraper that will be built on County land along Milwaukee’s lakefront, incorporating numerous public amenities, including a concourse for the Milwaukee County Bus Rapid Transit line, which will serve the corridor from downtown to the Milwaukee Regional Medical Complex, and for the Milwaukee streetcar, The Hop, which begins service this week.
“This is a major milestone for The Couture that enables us to move forward with the final stage of financing,” said Rick Barrett. “We are thrilled to be working with HUD on this catalytic development that will transform this vacant site into a vibrant public space that improves access to the lakefront, creates thousands of new jobs and adds a signature building to Milwaukee’s skyline.”
HUD maintains a rigorous underwriting process, thoroughly testing every aspect of potential projects to help ensure that the projects they support are a success. The invitation to the Firm Commitment Application stage of the underwriting process is a major milestone and enables Barrett | Lo to move forward with the final financing steps for the project. Barrett | Lo has a long track record of success working with HUD and its loan commitment program, including as part of the successful Moderne development.
Barrett added, “Downtown is the heart of the City, and it’s on a very positive trajectory. The public and private sectors have worked together to achieve great things. This latest success brings benefits to every part of Milwaukee.”
“The Couture project will be transformative, both for our downtown and for the quality trades jobs it will bring,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “What we’re really building is a national model for transit-focused development that connects our community in an innovative way, adding another icon to the skyline, and finally bridging downtown to the lakefront in a way that will bring more activity and value to both.”
Abele continued, “The ambition and the potential of this project are precisely why the County has been committed to supporting it from day one, from negotiating with the FTA a deal to demo the former bus barn to supporting the HUD loan process. We’re all in because we see what this project can be for Milwaukee. We can’t wait for the rest of the community to see that as well. I appreciate the support from HUD, as well as the project leadership and expertise from Rick Barrett and his team, and their bold willingness to aim higher and think bigger. Milwaukee is at is best when it dreams big, and that’s exactly what Barrett | Lo has done.”
“The Couture is much more than a landmark building,” said Rick Barrett. “It will be a true destination that achieves what the Downtown Transit Center was meant to become – a vibrant, multi-modal transportation hub at Milwaukee’s lakefront.”
The Couture has been designed, from the ground up, to be a key part of the Lakefront Gateway project, including a multimodal transportation hub incorporating the lakefront streetcar line, pedestrian walkways and bridges, Bus Rapid Transit, County buses and Bublr Bikes that will serve millions of visitors annually directing them to area retail, downtown businesses, nearby attractions and public lakefront pathways. Twenty-five percent of the total building and 97 percent of the ground level will be for public use.
Workforce development is a key priority for the developer, as well as the City and County. Rick Barrett has committed an additional $100,000 toward an apprenticeship training program being run by Employ Milwaukee. Together with a grant from Employee Milwaukee, and other County resources, there will be $500,000 in training resources to help County residents gain family-supporting careers in construction.
In addition, The Couture will also meet or exceed both City and County hiring targets, including utilizing County residents for 40% of the work on the project and utilizing Disadvantaged Business Enterprises for at least 25% of the project.
“These new jobs and improved lakefront access are only possible because of the strong leadership and vision from our elected officials – including the Milwaukee County Executive and County Board who have been on board from day one, as well as the Mayor and Common Council,” said Rick Barrett. “I deeply appreciate their commitment to making our community a better place for all residents.”
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This announcement marks a major milestone in moving the development project forward.
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