By Jeramey R. Jannene Special to Published Sep 15, 2009 at 2:37 PM

The Moderne, the long-awaited project on the corner of 3rd and Juneau, is moving ahead. The City, through RACM, aims to provide $10 million in financial assistance to the project -- a deal that some say is very likely to be approved.

The building is to be largely an apartment building with street-level retail and a few condos at the top three floors. Originally intended to be 80 condos, the project is now 154 apartments and 33 condos spread over 30 floors.

The project won zoning approval in 2007.

Developer Rick Barrett reported that he had a difficult time finding financing, stating that he had talked to hundreds of banks. It's no secret why that might have been, with hundreds of units available on the condo market in Milwaukee (largely collected in a few buildings) and commercial real estate lending virtually non-existent as the economy falters.

Arguments have been put forth by aldermen that the Common Council should look at providing more aggressive financing for projects to ensure that the Milwaukee tax base continues to grow with no gap after the recession ends and that more jobs are maintained in the meantime.

The proposal to finance The Moderne seems to be a manifestation of that philosophy, with the knowledge that even if construction were to start today it wouldn't wrap up until 2011, when hopefully the recession is fading memory.

The project will easily be one of the most dense buildings in Westown, with its good urban design and small footprint. As a comparison, The Palomar, which was proposed just across the street, was to occupy an entire city block. The Moderne will occupy a small plot of land next to Vecchio Bar and Grille. Hopefully it can serve as a catalytic project to spur more quality urban development in the Park East corridor and Westown.

Jeramey R. Jannene Special to
Jeramey Jannene is co-founder of Fresh Coast Ventures, LLC. Since moving to Milwaukee from Janesville in 2005, he has become a passionate urbanist interested in the social, economic, and environmental benefits of living, working, and playing in safe, walkable neighborhoods. These interests lead to the formation of, a site dedicated to championing urban life in the Cream Cit