As the central core of the 44-story concrete tower known as The Couture, 909 E. Michigan St., reached 3.5 stories this week, work was also underway on the transit corridor that will run through the building, adjacent to the lobby.
At about 6 a.m. Tuesday, Findorff construction crews began pouring the 500 cubic yards of concrete required for the pad upon which both The Hop streetcar and Milwaukee County Transit System’s Bus Rapid Transit will operate.
The $190 million Couture will be the easternmost stop on the The Hop’s L Line lakefront loop and will also be the eastern terminus of the East-West BRT, which is expected to begin service next June.
The pad will require about 50 cement mixers full of concrete and according to Findorff Senior Project Manager Eric Sadler, the work should be completed around mid-afternoon Tuesday.
Sadler said that his team will pour the pad and create a sort of trough through which the vehicles will pass but that The Hop will install the rails it requires.
Tracks and station platforms for The Hop have been laid to the site on Michigan and Clybourn Streets, but the tracks will be need to be extended into the transit lobby and power cables installed.
“We're looking at early 2024 for the building to be completely finished,” said developer Rick Barrett, CEO/founder of Barrett | Lo Visionary Development. “We're looking to move people into the building in fourth quarter, third quarter of 2023. And I think that'll be the time when perhaps the transit lobby may be ready to go.”
Whether or not transit will be utilizing the facility at that point remains to be determined. The Hop website suggests the L-Line will be operational in 2023.
“We're working on that scheduling,” said Barrett.
“We've been meeting with the city and county and coordinating all this stuff,” added Sadler. “I don't know that everything is set in stone on how they want to operate while construction's still going on.
“Will there be a staff inside? Will it be a temporary staff? Will it just run through? Those are the things the city's working through on their side of things, just logistics. But operationally, it will be fully completed before we're done. I think safety becomes an issue on an active construction site. So there's all that logistics would have to be worked through.”
The Hop spokesman Mark Rosenberg said that streetcar service is expected to begin at The Couture before the building is fully completed.
"We anticipate being able to resume construction sometime in spring 2023, with service on the L Line beginning sometime in fall 2023," he told me.
According to MCTS, when BRT services starts, the eastbound station terminus will be at Wisconsin and Van Buren (in front of Foxconn) and the westbound will be across the street, in the middle of the block between Jackson and Van Buren, until the opening of The Couture stop.
The Couture transit lobby will serve as a replacement for the Downtown Transit Center that formerly stood on the site and was demolished to make way for the tower, which was designed by Milwaukee-based RINKA.
The tower – which will stand 516 feet, 10 inches – will include 322 residential units and 42,837 square feet of retail space.
Barrett said Tuesday that he is pleased with the progress on the project, which began construction in May 2021 after having been planned and discussed for more than seven years.
It's going great,” Barrett said. “We've had some good weather and because of the good weather, everything's been moving forward. So, we're actually a couple days early on this pour for the transit lobby.
“The good news here is it's the first transit-oriented development in Milwaukee and I think it's a big step for us to get that thoroughfare spinning through the building. And it's a huge concrete pour today and it's a great, momentous day.”
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.