Now that work on the $188 million Couture project is finally underway, developer Rick Barrett is laying out his vision of what the new high-rise will mean for Milwaukee.
Part of that is the 50,000 square feet of retail space, which Barrett said will hopefully come online with the COVID-19 pandemic well in the rearview mirror and people again comfortable gathering in communal spaces.
The Couture will stand 44 stories tall when complete in 2023. It will contain 322 residential units, 900 parking spaces and a public transportation concourse in addition to the retail space.
"It will be a place with the retail we're bringing into that base of the building, where people can feel comfortable to congregate again. And we're hoping that's the case by the time we get this thing built that everything has flushed out of the COVID system," said Barrett, founder and chief executive officer of Barrett-Lo Visionary Development.
In a recent interview, Barrett gave his ideal scenario of the retail space.
"If I were going to draw it up myself, I would be looking for a gourmet grocer, something along the lines of a city Target, maybe some great Milwaukee pedigreed restaurants with, I could see, some medical office in here that would be conducive to the residents," he said. "Just some things that would be appealing to all the people living there, because at the end of the day there's going to be 500-600 new people living in those 322 apartments. From our perspective, anything that would be comfortable for them and make their life easier would be how we'd like to look at that."
The developer is working with JLL's Chicago office on finding retail tenants.
Barrett said so far, JLL has created merchandising plans to outline tenants who might be interested in the space. He said leases likely won't be signed until construction is well underway.
"Milwaukee is one of the types of town where you've got to start construction, you've got to let people in Milwaukee know this building is going up and that they can feel comfortable," he said. "We're kind of like the 'show me' state. You've got to show them this building is going to happen, then they'll buy in. But we need to accomplish that, and I think all that retail will come to be. And, I think we're going to have a lot of really great choices."