Fight with port could lead to familiar ground
Negotiations with the Tampa Port Authority could mean that Gulf Marine will stay put.
By STEVE HUETTEL
Published December 21, 2005
TAMPA - After a long battle with the Tampa Port Authority, Gulf Marine Repair Corp. might remain on the same land where it has operated a shipyard for four decades.
Gulf Marine sits on the northeast of Port Ybor, a 52-acre site that Trammell Crow Co. contracted with the public agency to develop with warehouses and offices.
Plans called for Trammell Crow to take over the property after the shipyard's lease expires April 30.
Now, the three entities are negotiating a deal that would let Gulf Marine, which employs about 250 workers, stay put.
Owner Aaron Hendry urged port authority board members Tuesday to keep pressure on the agency's staff to complete an agreement before the shipyard's lease runs out.
"Gulf Marine should be "grandfathered in' and given a new lease," he said. "Please recognize the (shipyard's) value of blue-collar employment opportunities at good earnings potential vs. ... nonmaritime developments."
A sister company owned by Hendry, called Hendry Corp., bought the shuttered Hooker's Point power plant, just south of Port Ybor, from Tampa Electric Co. for $4-million in April.
But renovations to make it suitable for a shipyard would take at least a year, Hendry said, and he'd like to operate Hendry Corp. at the old power plant site.
Under the proposed agreement, Hendry would swap Trammel Crow a piece of the Hooker's Point land in return for keeping Gulf Marine's location.
A final deal, however, would be a lot more complicated, port director Richard Wainio said. Gulf Marine wants rights to three port authority-owned docks. Tying up the docks for ship repairs could keep cargo ships from supplying Port Ybor tenants and other customers.
"We've got at least three parties who want to operate in that area," Wainio said. "We're trying to fit all those square pegs into round holes."
In other business Tuesday, the port board:
Agreed to a new lease with operators of the dining ship Yacht StarShip beside the Channelside entertainment complex. Starship Cruise Lines LLC received a 10-year lease with two 10-year options.
Extended the lease of International Ship Repair & Marine Services on the Metroport ship slip by eight months to Sept. 30.
Approved a lease option and 40-year lease agreement for U.S. EnviroFuels to build an ethanol distillery a Pendola Point.
Steve Huettel can be reached at email@example.com or 813 226-3384.
[Last modified December 21, 2005, 00:51:17]
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