Betty Brinn might move to The Couture

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:44 am

Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, currently located at O’Donnell Park, might be relocated to The Couture, a proposed 44-story mixed use building that would be constructed near the downtown Milwaukee lakefront.

Museum officials have been in talks about moving to about 50,000 square feet of space in the third, fourth and fifth floors of The Couture, said developer Rick Barrett, owner of Barrett Visionary Development.

The space at The Couture would nearly triple the Betty Brinn museum’s existing space, Barrett said.

No deal has been finalized, Barrett said. However, the space would be sold as a commercial condominim at cost to the museum, he said.

“I’m not going to make money off of that piece,” Barrett said.

Barrett said he wants to sell the space at cost to the museum to add a civic attraction to the building, increase traffic in the building and to help the museum’s efforts to raise money for the relocation and expansion.

“I want them to be there,” he said. “I think it’s a perfect fit for this building.”

Plans for The Couture, which would be located southwest of Michigan Street and Lincoln Memorial Drive at the current site of the Milwaukee County downtown transit center, still include a 180-room hotel, 179 upscale apartments and 40,000 square feet of retail space. The building would have a public atrium and pedestrian bridges connecting it to adjacent properties, in an attempt to maximize foot traffic for the retail tenants.

Barrett is still in negotiations to purchase the property from the county. The County Board recently approved plans to hire a law firm to pursue legal action in an attempt to verify that the property is not subject to the state’s public trust doctrine. Parks advocacy group Preserve Our Parks says the property was once part of Lake Michgan and is subject to the doctrine so private development should not be allowed there. The state Department of Natural Resources said the site is not subject to the public trust doctrine, but Preserve Our Parks disagrees and has threatened legal action. The county plans to take legal action to clear up the matter once and for all.

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