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Milwaukee secures funding for new cruise ship dock

The South Shore Cruise Dock development is a bid to make the city a must-stop on the Great Lakes cruise circuit.
Viking Octantis
Posted at 10:40 AM, Nov 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-07 11:40:46-05

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Common Council has signed off on a $2 million investment in the South Shore Cruise Dock, in a bid to make the city a must-stop on the Great Lakes cruise circuit.

The city's 2023 budget, which the council approved on Friday, includes $2 million in funding to redevelop the South Shore Cruise Dock. The dock is located next to the Lake Express ferry landing at 2330 S. Lincoln Memorial Dr.

The city is planning on using $4 million in grants from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and $1.285 million from the Port of Milwaukee, which sold a tract of riverside land to Komatsu for its new headquarters.

The South Shore Cruise Dock would also be the future port-of-call for Seawaymax vessels such as the Viking Octantis, the city said in a statement on Monday. The Viking Octantis is currently the largest cruise ship on the Great Lakes, a fact the vessel did not shy away from when it docked in downtown Milwaukee last May.

First cruise ship to visit Milwaukee pulls into port today

City officials said final construction design for the new dock is underway. A request for proposal is expected to be issued to the Board of Harbor Commissioners sometime early in 2023. Construction could begin in the spring.

“We worked together to complete the financing package for the redevelopment of South Shore Cruise Dock. This investment is valuable to boosting our city’s recreation and tourism market that will grow our economy in the years ahead," said Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson in a statement.

The director of the Port of Milwaukee, Adam Tindall-Schlicht, told Urban Milwaukee earlier this year that he expects the redevelopment should last the city more than 50 years. “This really is the one-time investment that we need,” said Tindall-Schlicht.

Tindall-Schlicht also told the news outlet that the city previously considered redeveloping the South Harbor Campus area for cruise docking. But a closer look found that the South Shore Cruise Dock was cheaper to develop.

The project falls within Milwaukee's 14th District and Ald. Marina Dimitrijevic, who represents the area in the Common Council, described the port area as a "gem for our city."

“As the Great Lakes cruising industry continues to grow, I couldn’t be more excited that thousands of passengers each year will step off the Viking Octantis and be welcomed to our great city by way of the 14th District," according to Dimitrijevic, in the statement.

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