Construction workers for The Couture have mostly spent more than a year in what is ostensibly a very deep, very high-tech basement for what will be a 44-story story apartment tower near the downtown Milwaukee lakefront.
On Friday, however, developer Rick Barrett of Barrett Lo Visionary Development, lead contractor Findorff, and dozens of concrete workers in blaze yellow t-shirts marked the pour of the first floor of the building, a major milestone for the project, first proposed in 2012. After numerous delays, construction finally began on the project in the spring of 2021. It is expected to be complete in early 2024.
Remarking on the months of planning, engineering, and complex building systems that went into building the foundation of the structure, Barrett said Friday was a big day for everyone involved in the project.
“It has been very difficult to create the bathtub, fight Lake Michigan, and create a dry basement, and finally get to where we can control our own schedule. We are basically building off the drawings at this point. And, for me, that is a critical piece,” Barret said. “It’s all up from here.”
He noted that people passing the site may have mistaken the core of the building, which now sticks about three stories above ground, for the actual structure itself. That is just the part of the building that contains the elevator shafts for the apartment tower. The rest of building, which encompass much of the two-acre site, is being built in tandem with the core, so each of the primary floors can essentially anchor to it as they rise out of the ground.
“By next week we are going to be starting to set the base of that fourth floor (of the core),” Barrett added.
Level one of the Couture is the most complex with a variation of different concrete beams and slab thicknesses, with it being 14-inches at its thickest point. The entire level is poured with over 2,700 cubic yards of concrete, equivalent to over 300 full concrete trucks. This comes to over 10 million pounds, which is about the same weight as 400 school buses. The majority of the level one deck is reinforced with rebar. There will be over 800,000 pounds of rebar placed to support the deck, equivalent to the weight of two Boeing 747 airplanes.
Partial occupancy by fall 2023
Once it’s done, the tower will contain 322 market rate apartments, a two-story intermodal transit center served by The Hop streetcar and the East-West Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line expected to ready for riders next year. There will also be 42,000 square feet of commercial space spread across the lower four floors of the building, a public park and a series of pedestrian bridges that will connect the site to the lakefront and its surroundings.
Contractors recently wrapped up construction of the two levels of parking that sit below ground.
Speaking to members of the Rotary Club of Milwaukee last week, Barrett said the building could see tenants move into the first 20 residential floors of the building by September of next year.
Asked about the partial occupancy process on Friday, Eric Sadler, a senior project manager with Findorff, said the company actually did the same thing with the Moderne apartment tower, 1141 N. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, that Barrett Lo and Findorff completed in 2013.
“We are probably going to have a few temporary roofs. And the floors will be separated and have their own clean elevator and lobby space. It happens quite often, and the city has to sign off on it and make sure all the life and safety elements are there,” Sadler said. “It’ll take about a month to finish pouring the first floor, and then we’ll probably be pouring floors through late summer next year, but we’ll be working on the interiors of the first floors while we’re still pouring.”
[gallery size="full" td_select_gallery_slide="slide" td_gallery_title_input="Concrete Pour of Couture's First Floor" ids="555722,555723,555724,555720,555721,555725,555726"]