New plans show Cotoure building would include more public space

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by Sandra Torres

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele says he can't imagine why anyone would be against constructing The Cotoure apartment tower across the street from the Art Museum, considering it's very appearance will make a statement about Milwaukee as Fashionable and forward thinking and a place where everyone can have access.

The Coutoure project has been in the works for almost two years. But on September 3, city and county officials unveiled a new plan, with significant changes that include more public space.

Rick Barrett, the developer behind the $122 million dollar project, was excited to get the plan out to the public.

"This is the exact right project for the City of Milwaukee at the exact right time," said Barrett, who was also the developer of the building "Moderne" in Milwaukee.

The latest plans for the proposed 44-story luxury apartment tower include more public space, to replace the current Downtown Transit Center that sits on Michigan Street and Lincoln Memorial Drive.

"The most exciting part of this project is the public aspect of it... we have 80,000 square feet of public space, that is a multi-modal transportation hub,"said Barrett.

The transportation hub will include a public transportation concourse, a streetcar stop, a walkway to the lakefront, a bike sharing station and public parking.
 
Another highlight includes additional jobs.  Projections show 150 permanent jobs along with nearly 2100 construction jobs.
 
It would also add $68 million in property tax revenue over 30 years -- right now there's none.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele believes the updated plan will settle the debate on the Public Trust Doctrine.

"We changed State law twice to help this project go forward," said Abele.

The project has been critized by the group Preserve our Parks, because the site originally sat in the Lake Michigan Lakebed, so private development was prohibited.

Earlier this year, Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation that established a historic shoreline, which allows The Couture project to proceed. But the group Preserve Our Parks has still threatened to sue in order to stop the project.

CBS 58's Sandra Torres reached out to the group Preserve our Parks about the new plan. An attorney representing the group said they had not had a chance to look over the plan in detail, but would respond soon.

"I'm a big believer in preserving the natural landscape, but we are talking about an empty bus barn... this is not a Frank Lloyd Wright buidling... and we are replacing it with a beautiful tower," added Abele.

The County Executive's office sent an informational report to the County Board, that will open public discussion this month.  They could send a final proposal next month to the Milwaukee County Board.
 
Developers hope to break ground Summer 2015.

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