La Couture obtains funding approval, construction will begin in January


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Night view of The Couture from North Lincoln Memorial Drive and East Clybourn Street. Render: Rinka

Last updated on November 25, 2020 at 1:22 PM

The Couture, a long-planned $ 188 million 44-story luxury residential tower development near the lakefront of downtown Milwaukee, has received a $ 103.5 million loan guarantee from the US Department Housing and Urban Development, the federal agency said on Monday.

The loan guarantee is the last crucial piece that Couture developer Rick Barrett of Milwaukee-based Barrett Lo Visionary Development sought to put the financing in place for the project. The developer said construction is expected to begin in January. A spokesperson for Barrett Lo added that the company expects to complete financing for the project in December.

“HUD’s firm commitment marks the final financial commitment required for us to begin construction on The Couture,” Barrett said in a statement. “We are excited to be working with the city, county and HUD on this catalytic development that will transform this vacant site into a vibrant public space that improves lakeside access, creates thousands of new jobs and adds an iconic building. on the Milwaukee skyline. “

The winning bid comes nearly three months after Barrett reapplied for HUD loan guarantee, after leaving a previous loan application laps. It has been about five months since Barrett announced that he had obtained sufficient equity for investors.

HUD said it approved The Couture’s candidacy on Friday.

“On Friday, November 20, HUD issued a firm insurance pledge in the amount of nearly $ 103.5 million for The Couture project in Milwaukee,” HUD spokesperson Gina Rodriguez wrote. , in an email. Rodriguez did not provide further comments.

The 700,000 square foot project will include apartments, commercial space and a transit hub for the Hop streetcar line and planned bus rapid transit system in Milwaukee County.

Vertical construction could begin six months after the inauguration, according to a schedule provided by a spokesperson for Barrett Lo. Construction will initially focus on the removal of an existing sewer line and earthworks. The earthworks are expected to take about three months, then it will take another three months for crews to climb back to ground level to begin vertical construction.

According to a press release, 25% of the total building and 97% of its ground floor will be for public use. This is where the multimodal transport hub is located.

“La Couture will become a national model of transit-focused development, transforming underutilized county property into catalytic development that connects our community in innovative ways, connects downtown to the lakeside, and brings in thousands of new construction jobs to our community at a time when they are needed more than ever, ”County Manager David Crowley said in a statement.

The project is also linked to certain workforce development commitments. It will strive for residents to do at least 40% of construction work and allocate at least 25% of procurement dollars to underprivileged businesses. Barrett also provided $ 100,000 for an apprenticeship training program run by the Employ Milwaukee workforce development group.

“This is a big step forward for this remarkable project,” Mayor Tom Barrett said in a statement. “Le Couture is a great addition in an exceptional location. The project will create construction jobs for city residents and work for emerging businesses; and it will add a transport link that connects more people to the lakeside. The center of our city will be stronger with Couture, and that’s good for everyone in Milwaukee.

Plans for The Couture were first announced in 2012. It was delayed by a lawsuit and then failed to raise enough equity to meet the requirements of its first HUD warranty claim.

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