The board of directors of South Korea-based Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd. approved a contract Tuesday to lease an 88-acre, $300 million shipping container terminal in Jacksonville for 30 years. The Jacksonville Port Authority board approved the same contract Nov. 3, and its only remaining detail is a Dec. 10 formal signing by both parties in Jacksonville.
The deal represents a year of negotiations, Jacksonville Port Authority Executive Director Rick Ferrin said Tuesday. Work began in October 2007, when Hanjin and port officials signed a memorandum of understanding envisioning a 170-acre terminal that could handle 1 million cargo containers annually. The finalized deal has the Port Authority constructing an 88-acre facility, with capacity for 800,000 containers a year, on port-owned land at the Dames Point Marine Terminal.
Hanjin will make lease payments including debt service the port incurs for building and equipping the terminal, Ferrin said. Port officials plan to get funds from revenue bonds and loans from the Federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act and Florida's State Infrastructure Bank, Ferrin said.
The terminal is expected to create more than 5,600 new jobs, the port announced.
"This kind of investment helps defy statistics and national trends in job growth," Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton said. "This puts us on path to be the third-largest port on the U.S. East Coast [in volume]."
Ferrin projects the facility's opening in late 2011. Permitting and design would take 12 to 18 months and construction likely would last another 20 months, he said.
Terminal equipment will include cranes large enough to work with container ships currently too large to fit through the Panama Canal, Ferrin said.
He said the first "post-Panamax" sized ships are expected to begin sailing through the canal in 2015. The ships would then head north from Central America, and Jacksonville would be the first port capable of handling them, Ferrin said.
"We're positioning ourself with the development of facilities so we can be that first stop," he said.
To handle the post-Panamax ships, the port will also need its shipping channel dredged. The Army Corps of Engineers said last month the port will be a strong candidate for federal help to pay the several hundred million-dollar cost, but that money has not yet been secured.
The terminal will give the city a competitive leg up, Peyton said. "We're in a footrace with Savannah, Charleston and Brunswick to see who's situated to be the provider of Asian trade, and this gives us a real advantage. Jacksonville is well-poised to be a relevant player on the international business scene," he said.
Ferrin said the lowest construction estimate is $176 million, from Moffat & Nichol of Carson, Calif. Equipment at the terminal likely will cost an additional $135 million to $140 million, he said.