August 25, 2008
Hanjin Shipping is planning to reconfigure the shape and size of the container terminal it is negotiating to build in Jacksonville to fit it into its new location at Dames Point.
The reconfiguration may result in a smaller, less-expensive terminal.
The news of the reconfiguration was revealed in an e-mail that was inadvertently made public because it wound up in the wrong file, said Nancy Rubin, a spokeswoman for the Jacksonville Port Authority.
Roy Schleicher, senior director of trade development for the port, wrote in a recent e-mail to project engineers and managers that the Hanjin contingent had presented a new idea for a “downsized terminal.” He asked them for cost estimates by Aug. 18. It was not clear whether a downsized plan was to be an option or a mandate.
Jaxport Executive Director Rick Ferrin and a team of port executives were in Seoul this month negotiating a 30-year lease with Hanjin for the terminal on the new piece of property at Dames Point. “The change in locations has led them back to the drawing board as to how to fit it in there,” Rubin said.
She said the team had ironed out some financing and “big picture issues” and was working on “nitty-gritty details, but that she could not comment on whether Hanjin was planning to reduce the size of the terminal because of the decline in U.S. imports over the last year.
“The economic outlook is certainly very different than it was last October when the memo of understanding was signed,” she said.
“Rick Ferrin has not shied away from saying that a lot of what we are doing today business-wise has a little bit different cast to it,” Rubin said. “I don’t know whether the 30-year lease will be affected by the economic situation in August 2008. That’s what we’re negotiating.”
Ferrin had told her that “real progress in the lease negotiations had been made over the weekend and that philosophically we’re on the same page,” she said. “Now it comes down to real pricing and issue details.”
When Jaxport signed the MOU for the terminal last October, it was supposed to be located on a piece of property owned by investor Abraham Zion of New York, but negotiations for the purchase of the property ran into difficulties, so by last spring Jaxport to relocate a cruise terminal on land it owned at Dames Point and to put the Hanjin terminal there.
The new location is next to the terminal being built by MOL’s TraPac terminal division.
“Hanjin has to redesign the terminal because the size (of the property) is considerably different,” Rubin said.