Ceremony celebrates start of Moderne construction

A groundbreaking ceremony was held last week to celebrate the start of construction for The Moderne, a 30-story residential building that is under construction at the southwest corner of Juneau Avenue and Old World Third Street in downtown Milwaukee. Actual construction work began in January.

The Moderne developer Rick Barrett and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who are not related, had a champagne toast after Rick Barrett popped the cork from the bottle into the large hole that has already been dug for the project.

“The Moderne is iconic and helps to underscore the transformation of Milwaukee into a contemporary urban metropolis, where professionals of all ages want to live, work and play,” Rick Barrett said.

The financing package for The Moderne is unique. After the U.S. financial markets collapsed in 2008, Barrett sought a public-private partnership to finance the project. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided a loan guarantee for a $42.4 million loan provided by the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust. The city of Milwaukee provided a $9.3 million loan.

City officials wanted to provide a loan for the project to help create jobs during the economic downturn, Mayor Barrett said.
“We did a lot of soul searching at City Hall,” he said. “We felt it was so important to put people to work right now. It’s not something you’re going to see us do again. The doors are closed.”

The project will create 900 construction jobs and 900 jobs to supply materials and equipment, according to Barrett Visionary Development. All of the construction workers will be union workers.

“I am Milwaukee made, the Moderne team is Milwaukee made, and The Moderne will be Milwaukee union made,” said Rick Barrett.

“This is the only tower crane up in Milwaukee right now,” said Lyle Balistreri, president of the Milwaukee Building and Construction Trades Council. “Hopefully, but the end of the year there will be more tower cranes up all over Milwaukee and all over southeast Wisconsin.”

The Moderne will have 203 apartments, 14 condominiums and 7,000 square feet of retail space.
The project is expected to be completed in late 2012.

“This building is a gorgeous building,” said Department of City Development Commissioner Richard “Rocky” Marcoux. “This will be a signature building for this city.”

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