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The Couture, A Downtown Milwaukee Lakefront Skyscraper, Begins Construction After 9 Years Of Planning

The Couture Milwaukee
Rendering of The Couture development along Milwaukee's lakefront.

After nearly a decade of waiting, it’s finally happened: construction crews broke ground at the site of The Couture. The long-anticipated downtown high-rise promises to redefine Milwaukee’s lakefront, helping connect downtown to the waterfront through a pedestrian bridge, parks and a new transit concourse.

Tom Daykin covers commercial development for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and has followed the plans for The Couture since it was announced in 2012. He says despite the extended wait, he never saw reason to believe that The Couture wouldn’t eventually be brought to life.

Construction was delayed for many reasons including but not limited to: environmental issues, securing federal loan protections, concerns around the transit concourse and an objection from the Milwaukee City Attorney.

“It just seemed like, for as long as it took to happen, there were still signs of it slowly moving forward whenever you thought perhaps it was not going to happen,” he says.

When the construction is finally completed, the building will have 44 stories, 322 high-end apartments, around 4,300 square feet of restaurant and shopping space and a transit concourse on the street level. The entire construction project is projected to be completed in 2023, but the transit concourse is expected to be done sooner and help expand Milwaukee’s downtown streetcar.

“In June of 2022 when the transit concourse is done, we’ll finally be able to run lakefront loop of the Hop,” Daykin explains. “That’s been awaiting the transit concourse because we have tracks that run down Michigan Street off of the main line, we have tracks that run Clybourn Street parallel to Michigan that run down the main line and where do those tracks connect? Right through the transit concourse.”

The lakefront loop of the Hop isn’t the only project The Couture has unlocked. The city of Milwaukee has proposed developing a park across Lincoln Memorial Drive from The Couture and building a pedestrian bridge to connect the lakeside park and the new skyscraper. Daykin says the city is looking to fund this project mostly through private funds, which it can now look to raise as The Couture has finally broken ground.

“[The park] would tie together both The Couture, Discovery World, you’ve got the Milwaukee Art Museum in that location and then of course, you also have Maier Festival Park where we have Summerfest and Irish Fest and all those other great festivals,” he says.

Daykin also points out that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation owns land in the area just south of The Couture, which could be developed into a new high-rise office building.

“For The Couture to finally get underway that does help very much to attract other development prospects,” he says.

Joy Powers is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Tom Daykin has been covering commercial development at the Journal Sentinel since 1995.
From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.
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