The Couture 44-story high-rise in Milwaukee took a big step forward on Wednesday with a six-hour concrete pour to form its foundation.
Crews overseen by J.H. Findorff began a concrete pour ultimately expected to bring 78 Rivcrete concrete trucks to the site for the delivery of 700 cubic yards of concrete needed for the $188 million tower’s foundation. The concrete pour comes after crews last month installed the first of two cranes needed the project.
The pour is expected to allow vertical construction to get underway in coming weeks. Construction crews expect the tower to start rising above the sidewalk this summer.
Developer Rick Barrett said the concrete pour marks a turning point for the project. He noted that previous excavation work at The Couture site at the corner of East Michigan Avenue and Lincoln Memorial Drive had led to a few surprises.
“As a real estate developer, for the last nine months, I’ve had a hard time sleeping at night, because who knows what we’re going to find, who knows what we’re going to run into?” Barrett said. “At this point, the predictability, we control, Findorff controls.”
The unexpected obstacles at the site included a We Energies transformer and led to delays. The project is now expected to miss federal deadlines in July and September for the completion of a first-floor transit concourse.
Interim Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said he’s now confident the city will be able to have those deadlines extended. At the same time, Johnson said he isn’t “certain” if plans to extend the September deadline, which is set by the terms of a Federal Transit Administration Grant, will also have to win approval from Congress.
“The federal government has been our partner all the while. It’s been 10 years in the making,” Johnson said. “I’m looking forward to being able to work with the federal government to extend it.”
Eric Sadler, a senior project manager at Findorff, said construction crews most likely will be able to start work later this year or early next year on parts of the project that are meant to provide connections both to the city’s streetcar and to a planned rapid-transit bus line that’s to run from the Couture to Wauwatosa. The tower would need to be at least three stories tall before crews can start on infrastructure needed for the transit connections.
City officials said last month that they expect the transit concourse to be finished by Oct. 31, 2023, a date that takes into account possible delays.
Barrett, meanwhile, said he’s talking to the development company Irgens about having a skywalk built to connect The Couture to the nearby U.S. Bank building. An elevated, enclosed walkway might also be used to ensure people living or working in or near The Couture will have alternative ways to get to the transit concourse and lakefront.
Barrett said he’s paying close attention to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s plans to redesign the Interstate 794 intersection near The Couture site. WisDOT announced in December that it would rework the intersection as part of a $300 million project to shore up structures leading to the Hoan Bridge.
“I think it needs to be a robust package of moving vehicles around,” he said. “It’s significant. You see how many people are driving through here.”