The Couture celebrates construction milestone, project still behind schedule

NOW: The Couture celebrates construction milestone, project still behind schedule

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee's next skyscraper is celebrating a new phase of construction with the installation of a tower crane, but project delays have one alderman frustrated.

Construction on The Couture began in May of 2021. The tower crane was installed this week.

"The tower crane's main function, at least for the short-term, is lifting all of our heavy materials as we do that concrete foundation work," said Eric Sadler, senior project manager for The Couture.

The tower crane, which can lift up to 16,000 pounds, is 175 feet tall but eventually will stand more than 600 feet high and aid in the vertical construction of the 44-story skyscraper.

"By the end of summer we'll be coming out of the ground, so people will see the guys working out of the ground instead of down below," Sadler said.

But the project is behind schedule. The transportation plaza, which includes a new streetcar loop, was supposed to be done in June. Now it won't be finished until 2023.

Alderman Bob Bauman, whose district includes The Couture, says he found out about the delay Tuesday after emailing the Department of Public works asking for an update.

"Were they going to wait until June 30,, 2022 and I show up in my suit and tie for a groundbreaking and no streetcar? What happened?" Ald. Bauman said.

The delay jeopardizes grant money the city got to fund the streetcar. The money has to be used by September of 2022, which isn't going to happen.

"There may be some issues with a $1.4 million obligation that the city may be on the hook for to the Federal Transit Administration," Ald. Bauman said. "We're trying to resolve that with an act of Congress through our congressional delegation in Washington."

In an email to Bauman, the streetcar system manager, David Windsor, says he's confident they will get the extension.

"Preliminary indications from FTA suggest the grant agreement amendment will be approved," Windsor wrote. Adding, "We believe the significant challenges in the development of The Couture have been overcome…There is every reason to believe that The Couture, including the innovative transportation concourse, will ultimately be completed as envisioned."

Sadler says he still expects the entire project to be finished by the end of 2023.

Bauman is skeptical, but says there's really nothing they can do.

"At this point we're stuck, and lesson learned, don't tie yourself to a real estate -- private real estate development, when you're building infrastructure," Ald. Bauman said.

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