Dignitaries from the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the AFL-CIO’s Housing Investment Trust, and project partners including Barrett Lo Visionary Development, RINKA and Findorff celebrated the start of The Couture construction with a ceremonial groundbreaking event on June 16.
First proposed in July 2012, The Couture was nearly a decade in the planning, with the timetable for completion by fall 2023. Located at 909 E. Michigan Street, the Couture was designed to include a multimodal transportation hub incorporating pedestrian walkways and bridges, the County’s Bus Rapid Transit line, bikes and the The Hop.
“Reaching this great day required a lot of hard work by the public and private sectors working together. The Couture will add to our economy and create jobs, it will increase transportation connectivity, and it will change our skyline. The Couture is a great addition to Milwaukee,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “There was never any doubt that The Couture would reach construction. And I say that with all sincerity. Because as every person knows, there were doubters, there were non-believers, there were naysayers, and there were haters. But there also were believers. And more important than believers, there were dreamers.”
This investment in Milwaukee represents the largest FHA loan that HUD has ever executed in the State of Wisconsin and is the largest loan within HUD’s Midwest region since 2000. HUD, along with Old National Bank, are the primary lenders for the project. The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) will also invest $104.5 million in the construction financing of The Couture by investing in the associated HUD loan. This is the HIT’s largest-ever HUD investment and its most significant investment to date in the state of Wisconsin. Baird served as financial advisor to Barrett-Lo on this transaction.
“Skyscrapers breathe a rarified air. They are the most symbolic buildings that human beings make. Together, we add The Couture as another symbol of progress, sending a message to other markets that we, Milwaukee, have arrived. We have swagger, we have city vibe, and most importantly, we in Milwaukee can compete to be great on the national scene with anyone, anytime,” said Rick Barrett, Barrett | Lo Visionary Development. “The Couture’s construction marks a huge win for Milwaukee. It will provide thousands of construction jobs, a million-man hours and hundreds of long-term jobs for the people of Milwaukee for generations to come. The dollars that come into this project are an investment in our city, an investment in our community and an investment in our future.”
Now under construction, The Couture will be the tallest residential building in Wisconsin at 44 stories. It has been designed as a key thoroughfare connecting Milwaukee’s lakefront and cultural amenities with downtown through public plazas and parks, pedestrian bridges and a new lakefront stop for the streetcar. It will create thousands of jobs for the city, and millions in new tax base, helping Milwaukee continue to thrive
“The Couture will mean progress, pride and opportunity to the men and women who are building it, who will live and work here, and who will visit and enjoy this wonderful, new community,” said Chang Suh, the HIT’s CEO. “Knowing that the strength of organized labor and its pension capital is helping bring The Couture to fruition, together with the sustained vision and determination of our longstanding partners, is a great thing for the HIT and for the city of Milwaukee.”
The 44-story skyscraper was designed as a key thoroughfare connecting Milwaukee’s lakefront and cultural amenities with downtown. The project includes public plazas and parks, pedestrian bridges and a new lakefront stop for the streetcar. The Couture will replace an underused transit center with a true multimodal transit hub for our community. The Couture will help generate both income through tax revenue and thousands of jobs for the city, helping Milwaukee continue to thrive.
“This is a project that promises to transform our lakefront skyline and contribute to creating a more connected county through a new street-level transit concourse that will eventually service Milwaukee County Transit System’s East-West Bus Rapid Transit Line – which we just broke ground on last week,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. “We all have a role to play in advancing racial equity and the Couture plays its part by providing another key station on the BRT route and helping strengthen our entire transit system – a vital service for county residents.”
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