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Couture construction delayed, Milwaukee officials seek deadline extension

Couture construction may begin soon after federal financing approval
Posted at 4:46 PM, Feb 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 14:45:19-05

MILWAUKEE — Completion of the highly anticipated Couture apartment tower will likely be delayed into 2023, according to our news partners at the Milwaukee Business Journal (MBJ. There were some unexpected discoveries while digging that's causing the opening day to be pushed back.

Now, that is causing concern of Milwaukee county and City officials regarding federal funding that is directly linked to the completion of this apartment tower and transit station. The lakefront section of the streetcar and the county east-west bus line are supposed to use that area.

The 44-story tower was supposed to be completed by June 2022; however, city officials are proposing a revised schedule to give construction more time to be completed, according to MBJ reporting.

Rick Barrett of Barrett Lo Visionary, the company in charge of building the Couture, issued a statement about the delay:

“As is expected with a major construction project on a 2-acre downtown site, there have been a few unforeseen conditions encountered while working below grade,” Barrett said. “We found two major discoveries that were not on the survey: more than 50 piles which needed to be identified and removed, and a We Energies transformer serving downtown which needed to be designed around.”

Given this and the need for a new timeline, city workers have to go to federal officials in Washington D.C. since the $14.2 million in funds to build the lakefront line of the street car came from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) back in 2015.

According to MBJ reporting, the FTA is open to pushing back the deadline.

Much of the $14.2 million has been used. Now, the city must find a way to spend the remaining $1.4 million by Sept. 30 of 2022.

Rick Barrett and Tan Lo of Barrett Lo Visionary last year made a personal commitment to reimburse the city for the $1.4 million if the federal government were to cancel the streetcar grant, the MBJ reported.

As an isolated incident, this isn't great. However, in the grand scheme of things, some people think this gives Milwaukee a bad look and reputation.

Milwaukee Ald. Robert Bauman said delays like this and to the lakefront streetcar line could make it harder to get federal grants in the future.

“What self-respecting federal bureaucracy is going to give new money to a city that can’t finish the project they gave them money for earlier?” Bauman said to the MBJ.

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