Chiquita to stay in Gulfport through 2014

Chiquita to stay in Gulfport through 2014

Chiquita will remain a port tenant at Gulfport, Mississippi, for six more months before moving to New Orleans, although two port commissioners wanted to evict the company when its lease expires July 15.

The port board voted 3-2 to extend Chiquita’s lease but to double the company’s monthly rent to $50,240 for 25 acres plus office, shop and warehouse space, the Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald reported.

“We just wanted to send a message to them that we didn’t agree with the way they treated us, giving us such short notice while we were steady designing buildings for them,” said Commissioner Bobby Knesal, who voted against the lease extension.

The port had been working with Chiquita to design the company’s new facilities as part of a major port expansion.

The company announced in mid-May that it would move its Gulfport operations to New Orleans, where Chiquita will cooperate in a vessel-sharing agreement with Mediterranean Shipping Co.

Chiquita’s departure comes as the company prepares to merge with Ireland-based Fyffes.

Contact Joseph Bonney at jbonney@joc.com and follow him on Twitter: @josephbonney.