Port NOLA, Ports America Ink 50-Year Lease
The board of commissioners of the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA) voted December 20 to extend its partnership with Ports America, which operates the port’s Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal and Nashville Avenue Terminal. The new 50-year lease agreement will include infrastructure investments and the potential for Ports America to operate elsewhere within the port’s jurisdiction in Jefferson, Orleans and St. Bernard parishes.
“The Port of New Orleans and Ports America have had a longstanding and successful partnership, and we are pleased to share a blueprint for strengthening the Port NOLA gateway,” said Port of New Orleans President and CEO Brandy Christian. “Our strengthened partnership supports the port’s strategic vision to create long-term economic prosperity for the region and to reinforce our competitive advantage in the marketplace.”
The lease agreement calls for Ports America to invest $66.5 million in infrastructure and equipment upgrades at the Napoleon and Nashville terminals to accommodate up to four new 100-foot gauge container cranes to service larger ships and boost volumes at those terminals. The agreement also opens the door to Ports America operating future container-handling locations within the Port of New Orleans, specifically at a new container terminal. The Port of New Orleans is studying the feasibility of developing a new container terminal in St. Bernard Parish—well below the Crescent City Connection bridge and free of any air draft limitations. If a new terminal location is deemed feasible, Ports America would invest at least $300 million and have the right of first negotiation to develop and operate the terminal.
Under the agreement, Ports America also has three years to assess and develop off-dock gate, container yard, chassis depot and intermodal container transfer facility solutions to bolster either the existing or future container terminals.
“Ports America is excited for the multiple opportunities made possible through this expansion agreement,” said Mark Montgomery, president and CEO of Ports America. “Partnering with the Port of New Orleans has provided, and will continue to provide, additional jobs and economic growth for the region. We are pleased to invest in, and provide our experience for, this important lease and concession.”
The lease agreement follows a cooperative endeavor agreement between the port and Ports America signed in June 2018 with the goal of enhancing operations at Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal. Ports America has operated the Nashville Avenue Terminal since 1998 and the Napoleon container terminal since 2003.
New Port Board Officers
Also as part of its December 20 meeting, the Port of New Orleans board of commissioners elected a trio of new officers for the year ahead. The board elected Arnold Baker as chairman, Tara Hernandez as vice chair and Darryl Berger as secretary-treasurer.
Baker has served on the port’s board of commissioners since April 2015. As chairman, Baker succeeds Laney Chouest, whose term as chairman expired in December. Chouest will continue serving on the board of commissioners until his term ends in June 2019.
“It has been a privilege to work under the leadership of Mr. Laney Chouest and I thank him for his vision,” Baker said. “I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners, Port leadership and staff, and all stakeholders to transform the New Orleans Gateway into a world-class transportation hub that will create economic prosperity throughout our region.”
Baker has led a successful career in construction, previously serving as managing member of Centergy Development Group and as assistant to the mayor of New Orleans for policy, planning and development. He has also worked as a field executive for mall development and management firms. He’s a graduate of Texas State University.
Baker also serves on the boards of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Black Chamber of Commerce, Empower A Billion Women by 2020, the New Orleans Board of Trade, Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation and Kate Middleton Elementary. He’s also a former board member of the New Orleans Business Council Greater New Orleans Inc., New Orleans Bureau of Governmental Research and the Louisiana Airport Commission.
The Port of New Orleans’ board of commissioners consists of seven members who serve unsalaried, staggered five-year terms. The governor of Louisiana appoints board members from a list of nominees submitted by 19 civic, labor, education and maritime groups. Four members come from Orleans Parish, two are from Jefferson Parish and one is from St. Bernard Parish.