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Port of Gulfport extends lease with Chiquita

The Port of Gulfport has extended its lease with Chiquita while negotiations continue on a longer lease.

Chiquita’s lease was set to expire Friday. A six-month extension with options for two six-month extensions was authorized Wednesday by the port commission.

Past leases were five years in length, but two years ago Chiquita began analyzing their operations. The two sides agreed to a one-year lease with a one-year option to help bridge the time while that study took place.

This lease is seen as another bridge while post-Katrina rebuilding issues are resolved, and another lease of at least five years is expected to be signed.

Earlier this month, the port commission extended its lease with Dole five years through 2013.

Commissioners also discussed Wednesday the legal issues surrounding the port’s lease with DuPont in executive session. The company’s ore-handling facilities were destroyed by Katrina, and it said in January it did not intend to continue its operations at the port, which date back to 1977.

Port Executive Director Don Allee said Wednesday he still hoped to be able to continue the port’s relationship, mentioning that its 300,000 ton-plus business was important to the bottom line.

Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com