Massive concrete pour today for foundation of The Couture

The Couture construction site in March 2022.

Last updated on March 17th, 2022 at 02:24 pm

Crews on Wednesday began laying the foundation of what will eventually stand as the tallest residential building in Wisconsin.

The Couture, a 44-story, a 322-unit development under construction at 909 E. Michigan St. near downtown Milwaukee’s lakefront, remains on track for a late 2023 completion, and Wednesday’s six-hour concrete pour for the building’s foundation marks the $190 million project’s latest milestone.

The first pour establishes the structure’s “raft,” a 700-cubic-yard slab made up of 176,200 pounds of rebar and 2.8 million pounds of concrete. The tower’s core, containing four elevators and two stairwells, will soon be built on top of the raft. That work is slated to begin in about a week and will take about a month to complete, said Eric Sadler, senior project manager at Madison-based general contractor J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.

It took a continuous rotation of 78 concrete trucks to transport all of the concrete to The Couture site. One by one, the trucks would feed the mix into two concrete pumps situated on opposite ends of the hole. Stationed down below, about 12 crew members helped place the loose concrete as it exited the pump. Click here to see the construction camera for The Couture.

Sadler said the raft pour is a critical step in the overall construction process.

It’s the foundation of this building, and this building we plan to be here for a very, very long time,” he said. “There’s a team of quality control people from RivCrete, which is our ready mix supplier, as well as a third party agency testing every truck that comes in to make sure the concrete is on specification and its ready to get poured in, so lots of planning and lots of people to make sure everything is just right.” 

In November, crews began driving the 116 steel piles that now support the raft. Each pile has a capacity of 400 tons. Concrete foundation work officially began in early February, with the installation of a 175-foot tower crane to help crews move heavy materials such as concrete forms and rebar cages. 

The building is expected to begin its ascent out of the ground sometime this summer, said Sadler.

For a project that took nine years to break ground, the idea that people will soon live inside may be hard for some to believe. So far, about 30 units have been reserved, said Rick Barrett, founder and chief executive officer of the developer of The Couture, Milwaukee-based Barrett Lo Visionary Development, adding that most of those reservations are for penthouse or top-floor units.

“That was a real litmus test for us as to the marketplace, and they’ve all held strong, even though we’re a little behind in the project,” said Barrett.

The developer is also focused on filling 45,000 square feet of retail space in the building. Barrett declined to disclose specifics but said his team is “working hard behind the scenes” to secure tenants. 

“We’re trying to find things that complement the people living here as well as things that will be exciting to visit,” he said.

In December, BizTimes Milwaukee reported that local restaurateur Omar Shaikh was considering The Couture as a potential relocation spot for his upscale steakhouse Carnevor. The restaurant now occupies 5,500 square feet at 718 N. Milwaukee St., but its lease is up in two years. Shaikh said he’d want to expand Carnevor’s footprint to somewhere between 8,000 to 10,000 square feet.

Asked about Shaikh’s interest in a potential lease deal at The Couture, Barrett declined to comment.

One of the highlights of the project, said Barrett, is its position along one of downtown’s main traffic arteries.

“The most exciting part is how vibrant this road has become and how many cars travel by the site every day. …  I love the way that it sits, it feels urban,” he said. 

The Couture’s ground-level transit concourse will serve The Hop’s lakefront line and will be the turnaround point for Milwaukee County’s bus rapid transit line. It will also provide a vehicle for residents and business professionals to comfortably move between The Couture, the adjacent 833 East building and neighboring U.S. Bank Center by way of pedestrian bridges.

“It’s a convenience for everybody to meander through the buildings,” said Barrett of the bridge connections. “It connects up parking that we have that maybe could be helpful to other buildings in the area, and it takes the weather and rain and snow out of the mix when you’re traveling.” 

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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