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Home / Commercial Construction / HUD closes on financing for $188M Couture project, construction to start this week (UPDATE)

HUD closes on financing for $188M Couture project, construction to start this week (UPDATE)

Federal officials on Friday closed on a $104.7 million loan to support downtown Milwaukee's Couture high-rise, a step that could pave the way for construction to start on the tower after years of planning and delays. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development closed on a construction loan and federal guarantee for the $188 million project Friday, according to an announcement from the agency Monday. Since 2012, Milwaukee firm Barrett Lo Visionary Development has been planning the 44-story, 322-unit tower at the southwest corner of East Michigan Street and Lincoln Memorial Drive.

Milwaukee’s Couture high-rise, a now-vacant piece of land on the lakefront, took a step closer to getting shovels in the ground with the announcement that federal officials on Friday closed on a $104.7 million loan. (Aerial photo by Kevin Harnack)

Federal officials on Friday closed on a $104.7 million loan to support downtown Milwaukee’s Couture high-rise, a step that could pave the way for construction to start on the tower after years of planning and delays.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is providing both a construction loan and federal guarantee for the $188 million project Friday, according to an announcement from the agency Monday. Since 2012, Milwaukee firm Barrett Lo Visionary Development has been planning the 44-story, 322-unit tower at the southwest corner of East Michigan Street and Lincoln Memorial Drive.

With a federal loan approved, construction is scheduled to begin this week on the Couture high-rise project in downtown Milwaukee after nearly a decade of planning and delays. A spokesperson for Barrett Lo said construction will begin on Wednesday on the 44-story, 322-unit tower at the southwest corner of East Michigan Street and Lincoln Memorial Drive.

Findorff is the lead contractor on the project, which was designed by the Milwaukee architecture firm Rinka. The project is expected to create about 4,400 construction jobs.

“We are thrilled to have closed on the site and to enable the Findorff team to begin construction work for the Couture, a transformational project for our community,” said Rick Barrett, founder and CEO of Barrett Lo Visionary Development, in a statement. “I want to thank the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, and all of the partners who have worked so hard alongside us to ensure that this important project has been able to move forward.”

Crews will begin work this week on the Couture project with below-grade improvements. Vertical construction is to begin early next year, and the entire project is expected to wrap up in fall of 2023.

The project will rely on a $104.7 million loan guarantee from HUD. The department, along with Old National Bank, are the primary lenders for the project. Baird advised Barrett Lo on the transaction.

“This is the largest FHA loan amount HUD has executed in the State of Wisconsin and the largest amount for HUD’s Midwest region since the year 2000,” according to a HUD official. “The transformative development is expected to revitalize Milwaukee’s lakefront, bringing transportation, jobs, and parks to an underutilized area.”

About Nate Beck, nbeck@dailyreporter.com

Nate Beck is The Daily Reporter's construction staff writer. He can be reached at (414) 225-1814 (office) or 414-388-5635 (mobile).

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