It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but I'm hard-pressed to figure out why a prime piece of Downtown real estate at 909 E. Michigan St. ever became home to a bunker-like bus terminal that appears to see very little bus traffic and even less foot traffic.
For years, before it was constructed, I waited for the No. 20 bus at its then-layoff spot around the corner on Cass Street. Never once did I think, "I'd prefer to wait in a dark, windowless building that would have a view of the lake if only planners thought to make it a pleasant space with, well, a view of the lake."
So, I greeted news today that County Executive Chris Abele and developer Rick Barrett are pitching demolishing the concrete boondoggle and replacing it with The Couture, a white tower that would be the second tallest building in the state with a sigh of relief.
Sure, the name's kinda, well, you know ... but, still, it beats the current site use. Other developers also submitted proposals for the property but I haven't seen those yet.
The 44-story 180-room hotel and 179-high-end apartment skytickler (let's be honest, 44 stories is a little short of skyscraper) will, if the market can bear it, build the city's tax base and welcome more folks to live and visit Downtown. The project also calls for retail space and parking.
The building's glassy white facade, drawn by Milwaukee's Rinka Chung – which also designed The Moderne, a currently-rising Barrett project west of the river, among other local projects – recalls other Downtown buildings, including The Moderne, the boxier neighboring U.S. Bank building and The University Club Tower up the road a piece.
Then there's the $120 million price tag. That's a lot of dough in the pockets of local construction workers. More than 4,400 of them, according to County estimates, which also suggest the project will create 200 permanent jobs. I cannot, however, vouch for the accuracy of these numbers.
But just today I was telling a visitor from Chicago about how the County has been wisely cautious about overdeveloping the lakefront, yet lately turning poorly run (or previously shuttered) existing structures into useful and pleasurable venues: Bradford Beach concession stand, Northpoint Custard, Alterra at the Lake, Harbor House.
Getting that wad of tannish-brown concrete near the foot of Michigan Avenue removed and replaced would be yet another major step forward.
Seems strange to me that Abele was the judge and jury on the proposals. Makes me wonder if there is a relationship with Barrett, resulting in essentially a no-bid project for the firm. It would be nice to see what the other concepts were. However, it is nice to see them move pro-actively on a run down eyesore for once. The city does not have a history of doing that. See: Park East Freeway, Sydney Hih.
Bobby Tanzilo | July 12, 2012 at 9:25 a.m. (report)
Thanks Jeramey. The posting had it right but the headline was inaccurate. I've corrected it.
jt | July 11, 2012 at 8:03 p.m. (report)
condo, apartments. many times higher end apartments are called condos. but, yes, plan calls for rental units. i'd guess, though, some will go condo eventually.
5 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published July 4, 2015
As the 11-day music blowout was about to get underway, we caught up with the Big Gig's Talent Buyer and Production Supervisor David Silbaugh - who explained his work as Summerfest drum tech back in 2008 - to learn a bit more.
Published July 1, 2015
As the 11-day music blowout we all call Summerfest was about to get underway, we caught up with the Big Gig's associate booking director Scott Ziel to get a peek behind the scenes.
Published June 29, 2015
Thanks to my co-worker Jill Jensen-Matelski, I saw this cool Summerfest 1970 poster that you can see above. She found it on the Facebook group "You know you are from Milwaukee WI if you remember..." My eyes immediately went to "Roland Kirk" and I was blown away. Then I saw Sly and the Family Stone, James Brown, Sarah Vaughan and so many other amazing acts.
Published June 29, 2015
As the 11-day music blowout we all call Summerfest was about to get underway, we caught up with the Big Gig's associate entertainment director Vic Thomas to get a peek behind the scenes.
Published June 28, 2015
How on Earth does one explain the ongoing success of The Flaming Lips? Don't get me wrong, frontman Wayne Coyne and company make interesting and engaging music and put on a hell of a show, but since when has that been enough? We found out Saturday night at Summerfest.
Published June 27, 2015
Saturday night marked Maritime's first Big Milwaukee Gig since it released its paean to its hometown, "Milwaukee," in April. So, did Brew City turn out to return the love?
Published June 26, 2015
U2 is in the midst of an eight-day, five-gig run at the United Center in Chicago as part of its iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour. We went down to have a look and a listen.
Published June 24, 2015
Living rock and roll legends the Rolling Stones took the stage at the Marcus Amphitheater Tuesday night for what may well be their last Milwaukee appearance. Here's what happened when the Zip Code Tour steamed into 53202.
Published June 23, 2015
When Paul Weller came to Chicago's Vic Theater last week I had to go. And, because Weller is so defined by Britishness, I decided to make the jaunt an English themed trip.
Published June 23, 2015
Word emerged today that Top Shelf Guitar Shop in Bay View sold the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards a guitar.