Couture developer lets HUD loan application deadline expire, still working on project financing

Barrett Lo working with R.W. Baird in hopes of attracting final financing piece

The Couture
A rendering of The Couture, courtesy of Rinka.

Last updated on July 29th, 2019 at 12:48 pm

The developer of The Couture project on the downtown Milwaukee lakefront said it will not meet its deadline to submit a final application for a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development loan guarantee, but is still working to secure its final piece of financing needed to move forward with the project.

Milwaukee-based Barrett Lo Visionary Development has for years planned to build the 44-story luxury apartment tower at the former Downtown Milwaukee Transit Center site southwest of Michigan Street and Lincoln Memorial Drive. The project at one time had been expected to cost $122.5 million.

The project reached what Barrett Lo founder and chief executive Rick Barrett described as a “major milestone” in November, after HUD asked the developer to submit additional information for its loan guarantee application. This signaled the project could have soon moved forward with its needed financing.

Since that time, Barrett Lo has sought multiple extensions to its deadline to complete that application. The developer was initially given a deadline of Jan. 26, but was unable to do so and was granted an extension to May 27. HUD then granted another extension, this time to July 26 (today).

Barrett said in a statement today that his firm will voluntarily allow the HUD application deadline to expire as it continues working on securing its last piece of financing.

“We recently engaged an investment bank to assist us in securing the final piece of financing for The Couture,” he said. “We have had positive conversations with the bank about potential investors. We look forward to working with them to advance this transformational project for Milwaukee’s lakefront.”

Barrett continued, “As part of that process, we will voluntarily let the HUD application extension expire. Once we complete the capital stack, we will resubmit an application through HUD’s Direct-to-Firm Program, which provides for a shortened review timeframe.”

A spokesperson for Barrett Lo said the investment bank the firm is working with is Milwaukee-based R.W. Baird & Co. Inc.

Barrett recently said in an episode of the MKE Forward podcast, presented by Colliers International, that he needs to secure $15 million in financing to get construction going for The Couture.

A spokesperson for HUD said on Friday the department had no update to provide.

The project was first unveiled in 2012, but it took years for Barrett Lo to win a legal battle over allowing development at the site to occur.

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Alex Zank
Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.