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Milwaukee Brings Suit to Develop Lakeshore

MILWAUKEE (CN) - The Wisconsin Supreme Court should pave the way for construction of a high-rise on the shore of Lake Michigan, the city and county of Milwaukee said.

Standing in the way of such development is the environmentalist group Preserve Our Parks.

If the land is filled-in lakebed, as that group argues, it is subject to the state's Public Trust Doctrine, which guarantees public ownership and access to waterways.

Milwaukee points to a different map, however, showing a different shoreline that places the site outside filled-in Lake Michigan lakebed.

In the original action the city and county filed this week, Milwaukee wants the Wisconsin Supreme Court to credit their understanding of Lake Michigan's official historic shoreline.

Legislative documents show that Barrett Visionary Development was tapped on Dec. 18 to develop the Couture, a 44-story high-rise, on the site that is now home to the Downtown Transit Center.

"Today's lawsuit is part of the County's proactive approach in moving forward on an economic development that will put people thousands of people to work and create millions of dollars of tax base," County Executive Chris Abele's office said in a statement.

"Assuming Preserve Our Parks' interest is deciding the question - and not merely delay - we assume they will join in asking the Supreme Court to hear the matter now," Abele added. "The county invites any other interested parties to join the action."

The transit center site is valued at $8.9 million dollars, but the county plans to sell it to Barrett for $500,000, according to legislative documents.

The county is represented by Alan Marcuvitz with von Briesen & Roper SC.

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