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Port of Wilmington, Del. to acquire 114-acre site for expansion

The $10 million acquisition is expected to close early next year and will substantially expand the port.

   The Port of Wilmington, Del. is spending $10 million to acquire a 114-acre site from Chemours Company in Edgemoor, Del., about three miles north of its existing terminals.
   The acquisition is expected to close early next year and will substantially expand the port, which today, has a 308-acre site at the confluence of the Delaware and Christina rivers.
   The new Chemours tract is on Hay Road. Located on the Delaware River and served by rail, the tract could potentially be used as a container terminal.
   The Army Corps of Engineers is about 80 percent through the process of deepening the ship channel from the mouth of the Delaware River all the way to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia from 40 to 45 feet. Ed Voigt, a spokesman in the Army Corps’ office in Philadelphia, said the dredging project is expected to be completed by the end of next year.
   “I’m excited by the potential for the port to use this site to better connect Delaware with the rest of the nation and the global economy” said Gov. Jack Markell.
   “The current port is near capacity, and with larger ships coming up the East Coast, we need this space to compete for their business,” said U.S. Rep. John Carney, who was elected earlier this month to succeed Markell as governor. He said the agreement is a step toward strengthening the Port of Wilmington and creating more jobs.
   The port is owned and operated by the Diamond State Port Corporation (DSPC), a corporation of the State of Delaware.
   “Today’s announcement is great news for Delaware’s economy,” Carney said. “The Port of Wilmington has been a source of good-paying, middle class jobs for thousands of Delawareans and their families.”
   Chemours, which was spunoff from Dupont last July, announced closure of the 114-acre Edgemoor manufacturing operation a month later. It had 200 employees and about 130 contract employees, according to a report in the Wilmington News Journal. The plant made a titanium dioxide slurry used in the manufacture of coated paper. The plant was disassembled and decommissioning was completed in March of this year. A few buildings that might be useful to a new tenant, such as offices, remain. In recent years, Chemours had received ore through the Port of Wilmington, which was then trucked to its plant in Edgemoor.
   This spring, the DSPC released a strategic plan that concluded that expansion is vital to the port’s long-term survival. It also detailed the taxpayer cost of maintaining the current facility at $300 million over the next 20 years, just to maintain existing businesses and their anticipated growth. The plan provided several scenarios for long term growth, which the port board endorsed, including the development of the Chemours site at Edgemoor.
   “While this purchase does not guarantee that a new port facility will be built at Edgemoor, it does give us a valuable option to market to potential investors,” said Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock, the chairman of the DSPC. “The Edgemoor site will be marketed with Riveredge, located south of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, as DSPC’s two primary options for expansion. We are hopeful, of course, that in time, both will be developed.”
   William Ashe Jr., vice president of the International Longshoremen’s Association, said, “The purchase of this property will provide the additional space required to support our existing customers and allow for increased work for our membership.”

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.