Construction of the couture residential tower in downtown Milwaukee begins Wednesday – almost nine years after the $ 188 million project was first proposed.
Underground improvements will begin at 909 E. Michigan St., Barrett Lo Visionary Development LLC announced on Monday.
The schedule provides for the structure to be increased by early 2022 and completed by autumn 2023, the company said.
The closure of the development’s main source of funding, a $ 104.7 million home loan guaranteed by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, came on Friday, according to department spokeswoman Gina Rodriguez.
“This is the largest (Federal Housing Administration) loan HUD has made in the state of Wisconsin and the largest amount for the HUD Midwest since 2000,” said Rodriguez.
“We are very pleased that the website has been closed and the Findorff team can begin construction on Couture, a transformation project for our community,” said Rick Barrett, founder and chief executive officer of Barrett Lo Visionary Development.
“I would like to thank the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, and all of the partners who worked so hard by our side to make sure this important project moved forward,” Barrett said in a statement.
The long-awaited groundbreaking ceremony was expected in early May.
TIMELINE: The couture project took years to complete
Building permit applications were filed in April, demanding that parts of the streets adjacent to the construction site be closed from May 3 to begin construction.
These filings came after the Joint Council unanimously approved a revised development agreement with Barrett Lo on March 19.
This vote resolved an issue raised by City Attorney Tearman Spencer regarding the contractual obligation that Barrett Lo donate $ 100,000 to the MKE United Anti-Displacement Fund. The private fund helps low-income homeowners faced with high property tax increases.
The development contract stipulates that construction must begin by July 1st, with major completion not later than 42 months after the start of work. That would be December 2024.
The contract requires the completion of the Couture road traffic hall so that the hop tram can run by June 30, 2022.
The passageway is needed to connect the parallel tracks of the lakeshore loop on Michigan and Clybourn streets.
Funding for the project includes the HUD-guaranteed loan from JLL Real Estate Capital, cash from investors, and $ 19.5 million in city funds generated from couture property taxes to pay for the transit hall and other public improvements.
Project plan started 9 years ago
Couture has been in the making for years.
The proposal was made in June 2012 for the site of the underutilized Downtown Transit Center owned by Milwaukee County.
But it has been delayed in part by legal claims that part of the couture property is on a former bed of Lake Michigan that cannot be used for private purposes.
This problem was largely resolved in 2014 after the then government. Scott Walker signed a bill clearing the boundary for development on former lake bed areas in the inner city.
The county board agreed to sell the 2.2 acre property for $ 500,000 later that year. This below market price was used to ensure the feasibility of the project.
A subsidiary of Barrett Lo completed this sale in August 2016 after the Joint Council approved a funding plan for the transit hall and other public improvements, dropped legal challenges to the Lake Bottom Act, and the Federal Transit Administration approved the sale of the Downtown Transit Center.
Barrett Lo demolished the former transit center by early 2017, and months later the Joint Council approved $ 2 million in city funding for a new sewer line at the development site.
Barrett Lo announced in October 2018 that it had been asked by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to apply for a loan guarantee. The preliminary decision by HUD meant that couture had largely completed an extensive drawing process that took several months.
However, by July 2019, the company had missed a twice-extended deadline to receive the HUD loan guarantee after a large equity investor decided not to fund the project.
Barrett Lo then hired Baird & Co. to find other investors.
In November, HUD announced that it had issued a loan guarantee for the couture – paving the way for construction to begin.