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Avondale Marine Completes Purchase Of Shipyard Facility

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and a host of elected officials, economic development experts and business leaders gathered October 4 at the site of Avondale Shipyard, located on the west bank of the Mississippi River in Jefferson Parish, La., to celebrate the sale of the property and the anticipated rebirth and redevelopment of the facility from a sprawling shipyard to a global logistics and multimodal shipping hub.

Avondale Shipyard closed in 2014 after more than 75 years in operation. Huntington Ingalls last operated the facility, with the USS Somerset, final Navy ship built there, departing the yard in February 2014. At its height, Avondale was the state’s largest employer with more than 25,000 workers.

Edwards said state leaders had been working throughout the four years since the shipyard closed to put the 254-acre site back to work.

“We knew the need to put Avondale back into commerce [because of] the role it plays in our state and in this region of our state, on the west bank here in Jefferson Parish,” Edwards said. “I’m delighted to say we’ve attracted some extraordinarily hard-working and visionary private sector partners who are committed to reviving Avondale and making sure it’s a powerful new economic asset for the state of Louisiana.”

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For months, leaders from Avondale Marine LLC, a joint venture of T. Parker Host Inc. and Hilco Global, have been working to finalize a deal with Huntington Ingalls for the site. Then, in the past few weeks, Jefferson Parish, the board of commissioners of the Port of New Orleans and the directors of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad Corporation each approved cooperative endeavor agreements supporting Avondale Marine’s plan to purchase and redevelop the site. Under the agreement, the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad would eventually extend a rail spur to the site, thus connecting it to all six Class I railroads that serve the Port of New Orleans.

With that support in hand, Avondale Marine finalized the acquisition October 3.

Edwards praised the group’s plan for the historic site and cast a vision for what’s to come at Avondale.

“We have a historic moment to repurpose the proud past, to leverage the current assets you’re looking at on site today, and to further develop the vast potential of this Avondale Shipyard site,” Edwards said.

Those assets include more than a mile of deepwater river frontage, a dozen or more structures and some 2 million square feet of property under roof.

“The future is going to combine the world-class logistics of Louisiana’s maritime, rail and highway infrastructure and a new economic model for the future,” Edwards said. “In short, this is going to be a global logistics hub and is going to bring in global investment and a regional employment. That future, which is our future, will honor our past while creating tremendous new economic impact here at Avondale.”

Adam Anderson, president and CEO of T. Parker Host, said when he and his team looked at the Avondale site, they saw two things: a strategic facility and an impeccable workforce.

“When we came down here, we not only saw a strategically located facility on the Mississippi River near the rail and interstate and the ability to house value-added industries right here on site,” he said. “We also quickly found one of the greatest skilled workforces in America to perform that work already existing here in Jefferson Parish and the surrounding area and the state of Louisiana.”

Anderson will lead Avondale Marine’s efforts to redevelop the site.

“Over the coming months and years, we’re going to transform this shipbuilding facility into a global logistics hub,” he said. “Together, we can and will create thousands of jobs as we unleash the combined potential of this workforce and this community and this facility.”

Officials anticipate a workforce of up to 2,000 employees at the site.